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Powerful tools or paper tigers

Transparency Int'l

On Monday, El Salvadorian president Nayib Bukele completed his first 100 days in office. Just before that deadline, he announced the creation of an anti-corruption commission, the CICIES. While an important step, the commission is currently limited in scope and falls short of its role model, the now defunct CICIG, when it comes to having the power to tackle corruption.

But with the UN pledging its support and sending a delegation to El Salvador, there is hope that the CICIES will eventually have the necessary powers and independence to effectively address corruption and impunity.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, a regional champion of anti-corruption is at risk of being turned into a paper tiger. Parliament is set to discuss the revision of a law governing the running of the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which could jeopardize the organisation’s independence. President Joko Widodo seems determined to agree to the revision, even if this means a setback for Indonesia’s fight against corruption.

“Attempts to weaken the independence and authority of the KPK have serious potential to undermine its commendable anti-corruption efforts in recent years,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. If Indonesia is to further improve these efforts, global standards like the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention and the Jakarta Principles need to be respected.

International organisations have a crucial role in enforcing such standards and addressing corruption. The IMF illustrated this when it made installing an effective anti-graft framework in Ukraine a condition of further financial support. There has been some positive development recently: Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court has finally come into action and will hopefully drive changes in the entire judicial system; and new whistleblower legislation is on its way. However, in a country where around US$ 4 billion are lost to corruption each year, much remains to be done.

In Ukraine and elsewhere, international organisations and civil society need to work together to enforce strong anti-corruption standards and ensure the rule of law.

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