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Dialogue held to scale up fight against corruption in Africa



The annual meeting was convened by the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption under the theme ‘Fighting Corruption through Effective and Efficient Judicial Systems’. PHOTO: ImageCollab

The African Anti-Corruption Dialogue 2020 took place in Arusha, Tanzania from 2 to 4 November where recommended actions were proposed to African Union member states to implement to scale up action against corruption on the continent. The annual meeting was convened by the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption under the theme ‘Fighting Corruption through Effective and Efficient Judicial Systems’. The meeting held deliberations on the state of corruption on the continent, the role judicial systems play in fighting corruption, acknowledged non-state actors as an essential link in the fight against corruption and aimed to enhance transparency and accountability in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It advocated for strong judicial systems with considerations on the negative impact and consequences corruption has, especially if it infiltrates systems of justice and accountability eroding the rule of law and breeding impunity Policy recommendations made include to act against insufficient coordination between investigative, prosecutorial and judicial arms creating inefficiency and delays in dealing with anti-corruption cases and to act against the sectoral nature of anti-corruption measures failing to focus on the wider administration of justice. Further recommendations made included to act against high level corruption in agencies, to deal with difficulties in political and grand corruption cases and to deal with delays in finalization of corruption cases, the proportionality and enforcement of sentences. The recommendations showcased a need to institutionalise zero tolerance policies on corruption in governance structures including recruitment of expert personnel and to remove immunity from prosecution provisions to instil integrity, accountability and transparency in the public and private sectors. Other recommendations included protecting whistle-blowers, employing technology in expediting tracking of illicit financial flows, reporting crimes, extradition of persons contravening the anti-corruption act and case management processes. The dialogue observed that progress has been made by African Union Members in the fight against corruption and the implementation of policies and commitments that address the haemorrhage of resources through corrupt means. It is evident where states have engaged in reforms such as establishing courts specializing in economic and financial crimes and developing integrity committees, specialized ombudspersons, help desks and hotlines to deal with reported instances of corruption. States have implemented information, communication and technology tools to speed up judicial processes, enhance accountability and facilitate transparency. Regionally, networks have been formed to enhance accountability in the administration of justice and foster exchange of best practices, underscoring the prominence of functional, independent and effective institutions including the judiciary. Begoto Miarom, chair of the advisory board of the African Union, recognizes corruption in the justice sector can erode public trust, create a culture of lack of accountability and weaken confidence in public institutions. He says corruption similarly impedes the ability of justice systems to ensure protection of human rights, creates uncertainty in application of the law and affects responsibilities and duties of all involved in the administration of justice. “There is no doubt that corruption is a scourge that affects all areas of society, however if there is one area it has a negative impact that can have disastrous consequences on other areas, it is in the area of justice and accountability. This can distort the application of the principle of the rule of law and lead to impunity,” says the chair. Begoto notes the commitment to good governance must be strengthened even during the current uncertainties saying they must work hard to achieve the objectives that have set themselves through the African Union's Agenda 2063. He highlights the need for inter-agency collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement in exposing and combating corruption.

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