2012: A year of courage and conviction
Standing up to corruption requires both courage and conviction, often in the face of great personal danger. Again in 2012 we saw how people took on this challenge. This article is a tribute to a few of those from around the world who have made a difference in the fight against corruption, one of whom paid with his life.
Despite the risks, they understood the devastating effect corruption can have on people’s livelihoods and decided to act. In some cases that meant doing their jobs, despite intimidation. In others it meant speaking out in the face of danger.
They are inspirations to us all. Our mission – a world free of corruption – depends on everyone taking up the anti-corruption challenge.
Rafael Marques de Morais
Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist, writer and founder of Maka Angola, the country’s only anti-corruption website. Maka is a noun in Kimbundu, one of the indigenous languages of Angola, referring to a delicate, complex or serious problem, an apt description of what it takes to fight corruption in a country recovering from years of civil war.
Mohammad Abu Amryed
Mohammad Abu Amryed, a worker at the ministry of finance in Palestine, discovered in the course of his daily duties that a citizen was being blackmailed when requesting a grant to have his properties rebuilt after the Intifada al Aqsa. He uncovered a scheme to extort US$375,000 and the perpetrator is now facing justice. This year, AMAN, Transparency International’s chapter in Palestine, honoured Amryed with its 2012 Integrity Award alongside Ali Abu Yunus, from local government bodies, and Nizar Habash, from the media sector, for their courage in speaking out against corruption.
Chut Wutty was murdered in April this year in the rain forests of Cambodia that he struggled to protect. He dared to stand up to the powerful vested interests that threaten the livelihoods of villagers and the environment where they live because of illegal logging, particularly of rosewood. He inspired local protests and gathered information on the corrupt practices of government officials in granting logging permits.
Costas Vaxevanis, a Greek journalist, was arrested and tried for publishing a list of the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts. The list had been lying unread on government desks for several years. He was later acquitted but is now facing retrial. The revelation of the list raises questions about whether there are credible, enforceable measures in place to ensure that people pay their taxes in line with all requirements of the law, or whether some rich people are able to shelter their income.
G. J. Sanath Fernando
G. J. Sanath Fernando was honoured with the 2012 national integrity award from Transparency International Sri Lanka for doing his job in the face of death threats in a position that is particularly vulnerable to bribery and corruption. Over his career he has uncovered numerous scams, including the illegal importing of cigarettes and the under-valuation of vehicles and palm oil.
Ocasa – which means truth in an ancient, indigenous Colombian language – was founded in 2009 by young people who want to promote democracy and good governance, particularly among their peers. It has helped support 30 projects across Colombia that have touched the lives of more than 13,000 people.