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Transparency International 2005 Integrity Awards

Transparency International invites individuals and organisations to submit nominations for the 2005 Integrity Awards. The annual awards honour up to three individuals or/and organisations whose efforts have made a positive impact on curbing corruption.

The TI Integrity Awards were established in 2000; they recognise the courage and determination of the many individuals and organisations fighting corruption around the world. To date 11 activists from all over the world have been awarded .

In many cases the Awards have led to a change of laws in certain countries and continue to encourage and support the winners in their anti-corruption initiatives. Past winners have tackled corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry, exposed an oil-and-supplies scam in the military, took on corruption in the tax system and pioneered the introduction of a new judicial management system. To see a film documenting our winners,click here.

The winners of the Awards are a source of inspiration because their actions echo a common message: corruption is surmountable. Candidates must have undertaken an action that is likely to significantly influence, or have had a significant impact on, existing levels of corruption in his, her or their respective country or region and their action must be particularly imaginative, innovative or courageous, and deserving of international recognition.

Nominations must be submitted no later than 1 July 2005. Award winners will be honoured on 11 November 2005.

For more information and to order a brochure, please click here or e-mail styler@transparency.org

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Interview with David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, Transparency International

What was TI's motivation in establishing the Integrity Awards?

The Awards were established in 2000 to honour individuals and organisations who, often against immense odds, have taken innovative and courageous action to influence the levels of corruption in their country. Media reporting on corruption around the world sometimes gives the impression that this scourge is unbeatable. But many of our Awards winners have not only paved the way for anti-corruption reform, they have also instilled a sense of pride among their fellow citizens.

Take, for example, the Nigerian 2003 Integrity Awards winner, Dora Akunyili, whose courage and uncompromising stand have made her a model for many Nigerians. She recognised that corruption is the enemy of the poor and the vulnerable, some of whom have even lost their lives because corrupt political elites intercept vital medicines and healthcare supplies destined for those suffering from the HIV virus, malaria or tuberculosis.

Or, through corrupt activity, vital food supplies designed to tackle hunger and malnourishment may be diverted. When corruption prevents the supply of medicines, the consequences can be devastating. that the effects of corruption go beyond the enrichment of the greedy few, it also costs lives. Fighting it is everyone's responsibility.

Is there a difference in the way corruption is tackled in the developed and developing world?

Corruption can be found across the globe. The view that responsibility for corruption lies mainly at the doorsteps of the developing world is outmoded. From grand to petty corruption, the whole spectrum of abuse of power permeates politics, business and private life in rich and the poor countries alike. Its devastating impact is increasingly recognised and a consensus is emerging that will simply not tolerate this scourge any longer. TI uses the term "corruption" in a broad, inclusive way, meaning the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. The Awards winners illustrate various examples of corruption in the developed and developing world and ways to address it. Take Eva Joly, for example. As a fearless magistrate, she spearheaded corruption investigations in France that led to the successful prosecution of former high-ranking politicians as well as major French corporations. Businesspeople and politicians are also increasingly opposing the tradition of corruption. The public prosecutor's office and the people of Londrina, Brazil, (a city of 450,000) were awarded an Integrity Awards prize in 2001 for their investigation of the city's mayor, Antonio Belinati who embezzled US $45 million during his term of office. Mr. Belinati was eventually impeached by the city council on charges of corruption. Civil society as well as the private and public sectors are vital to combating corruption, whether in the developed or developing world.

What effects does this award have on the ground?

Many! The example of Kenya is a relevant one. David Munyakei and Naftali Lagat, Integrity Awards winners in 2004, helped to expose the biggest corruption scandal Kenya has ever known, the Goldenberg Scandal.

Munyakei, a former clerk at the Central Bank of Kenya, was sacked for exposing the loss of about 300 million dollars from the bank, which had been paid out in an illegal transaction involving the bank and Goldenberg International. He has remained jobless since then, paying the price now for ten years for having blown the whistle. Why? Because this was an offence against the Official Secrets Act and Kenya does not have whistleblower protection legislation. TI Kenya has been pushing for such legislation as they try to promote open and transparent government. This kind of international exposure helps chapters and NGOs in the field pressure governments to implement anti-corruption reforms.

How does the Award afford the winners a greater degree of protection in their anti-corruption work?

During the ceremony held in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2004, one of the winners, David Munyakei, said that the award gave him the encouragement to keep on fighting corruption. For someone whose life has been threatened and who has not been able to work for ten years because he exposed corruption, this is a huge endorsement. One of the reasons this Award is so important is the international support it grants its recipients.

You also give posthumous tributes. Please tell us more about that.

Fighting corruption is always risky and sometimes even fatal. The killing of investigative journalists, for example, continues. It's important to highlight these stories and to keep up pressure on governments to guarantee access to information. Manik Chandra Saha (who received a posthumous recognition in 2004) was a bold Bangladeshi journalist, who frequently reported on crime and political corruption for the New Age newspaper and for the BBC Bengali service. His determination to uncover injustice made him enemies and he received numerous death threats. Despite police protection he was killed in a bomb attack on 15 January 2004.

Carlos Alberto Cardoso, a journalist in Mozambique, was assassinated in November 2000 while investigating the largest banking fraud in the country's history. Georgy Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist who highlighted the corruption of the Ukrainian government on his internet news service, was brutally decapitated in autumn 2000. Both received posthumous Transparency International Integrity Awards for their courage in fighting corruption. Investigative journalists are essential in exposing corrupt politicians and public officials, but their lives should not be jeopardised simply because they are doing their jobs.

What is the reaction from the family of the posthumous winners?

Gratitude, anger, and relief.

And from those who witness the Awards ceremony?

Personally, I have found each of the Award ceremonies I have been at to be a moving and inspiring occasion. I think others' experience is similar.

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