Friday, 23 November marks the International Day to End Impunity. At Transparency International we view impunity as getting away with bending the law, beating the system or escaping punishment. Impunity is anathema to the fight against corruption.
Earlier this month, activists, businesspeople, politicians, public officials, journalists, academics, youth and citizens who convened at the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brazil made it clear that transparency alone is not enough but must be accompanied by prosecution and punishment.
In a joint declaration, the gathering of 1,900 representatives from 140 countries called on political, business and community leaders everywhere “to embrace not only transparency in public life but a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are accountable.”
“We are watching those who act with impunity and we will not let them get away with it,” said the declaration, adopted in Brasília on 10 November.
The International Day to End Impunity is organized by IFEX, a global network that defends and promotes free expression. Events in more than 14 countries raise public awareness about what creates and sustains a culture of impunity. Transparency International supports the goals of protecting journalists and others engaged in the vitally important work of exposing corruption.
1. exemption from punishment.
2. immunity from detrimental effects, as of an action.
Many of Transparency International’s some 100 national chapters are involved in initiatives that work toward ending impunity for corruption in their country, including helping in the detection of corruption, facilitating access to the judiciary, strengthening the judiciary’s independence and capacity, or by analysing and monitoring how corruption cases are being judged.
TI’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs) offer the opportunity for citizens to pursue complaints about corruption. ALACs also play an instrumental role in identifying corruption hotspots that demand reform or official action. These centres are already functioning in more than 50 countries.
Our Rwandan ALAC pursued a case of land grabbing involving a mining cooperative president who sought to renew the mine’s certificate under his name. With the help of the ALAC, an investigation was launched with the Public Prosecutor Authority; after being taken to court the cooperative president’s was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined nearly US$3,500.
Many TI chapters have conducted election monitoring, including in Serbia, Bahrain and the Dominican Republic. In Venezuela, our chapter is part of an initiative, Alerta Electoral, which monitors electoral irregularities including potential misuse of taxpayer money by political candidates.
Several TI chapters are also working to improve whistleblower protections by advocating for strong legislation and assisting whistleblowers. These include chapters in Hungary, Lebanon and Zambia.
Our chapter in Ireland has established “Speak Up”, a free, secure helpline and online system for employees considering reporting wrongdoing. The Ireland chapter is also campaigning for the passage of a national whistleblower law that would cover all employees.
The need to fight impunity was also stressed at the closing session of the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference, which called for the promotion of a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are held accountable.
Transparency International believes that ‘impunity undermines integrity everywhere’ and is proud to participate on 23 November along with citizens who are fighting to end impunity for corruption and other crimes.
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