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What does it take to be an anti-corruption hero? Integrity Awards 2013

Transparency International’s Integrity Awards, launched in 2000, celebrate those who have taken extraordinary steps to fight corruption.

Previous winners have shown a deep passion for their work, an outstanding level of courage to take on authority and a commitment to keep up the struggle.

The people in this video fight corruption every day. They work for Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres, which offer free advice and support to the victims and witnesses of corruption. We run around 90 of these centres in 60 countries all over the world, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. To date, over 140,000 citizens have contacted one of our centres.

We asked them what they think it takes to be an anti-corruption hero. Take a look at what they said.

That’s not to say all the winners are alike: Heroes in the fight against corruption come in all different shapes and sizes. Past Integrity Award winners range from a corrupt official-busting 80 year old Vietnamese ex-schoolteacher to a young pilot who blew the whistle on a scandal in the Moroccan military.

Help us find this year's heroes: Nominate today

Nominations for this year’s Integrity Awards are now open. Do you know of a corruption fighter who has demonstrated these qualities?

She or he could be a journalist, activist or whistleblower who uncovered a corporate scam. Perhaps it’s a lawyer, judge or public official who would not allow political corruption to flourish. Or even a photographer, filmmaker or writer who has exposed corruption and laid bare its devastating effects on society.

Nominations are open to the public and all the relevant information can be found here.

Previous winners: where are they now?

David Leigh, UK and Roman Shleynov, Russia (2008)

David Leigh (left) and Roman Shleynov accepting their awards at the 2008 Integrity Awards Ceremony, London.

The 2008 Integrity Awards went to two investigative journalists, David Leigh and Roman Shleynov.

Leigh’s landmark investigations revealed how millions of pounds worth of secret cash payments had oiled a deal between arms company BAE and Saudi Arabia. Shleynov has worked on stories ranging from embezzlement by a former Russian nuclear energy minister to an investigation into the billions of black market cigarettes making their way from Kaliningrad to the rest of Europe.

Since winning an Integrity Award, each has gone on to play a part in Offshore Leaks – one of the biggest financial information leaks in history, released recently by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Gregory Ngbwa Mintsa, Gabon (2009-2010)

Gregory Ngbwa Mintsa accepts his Integrity Award in Bangkok, Thailand at the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference

Five years ago, Gregory Ngbwa Mintsa joined forces with Transparency International France to call for an investigation into five African presidents suspected of stealing public assets. Despite threats, imprisonment and the withholding of his salary, Ngbwa Mintsa refused to drop the case.

In 2010, part of the French Supreme Court ruled that the case could go ahead. Since then, we’ve seen the seizure of US$5 million worth of luxury cars and a private jet, and further investigations are ongoing. Ngbwa Mintsa helped set a true precedent for challenging those who act with impunity by not letting them get away with it.

I did this so that people would stop being afraid, and so that they would realise that it is the people themselves who must stop allowing anyone to be considered above the law.”

- Gregory Ngbwa Mintsa on his involvement in the case

You can read an interview with Gregory here on our blog, Space for Transparency.

Le Hien Duc, Vietnam (2007)

Le Hien Duc and Mark Pieth (centre) receive Integrity Awards in 2007 at a ceremony in Berlin

Le Hien Duc is a Vietnamese corruption fighter who won an Integrity Award for her fearlessness in pursuing corrupt officials. She files complaints to the authorities and helps fellow citizens to challenge petty bribery and large-scale graft.

Now 80, Duc continues to advocate passionately on land rights as well as other issues. You can read what she has to say in this recent piece in The Economist: Land grabs in Vietnam: Losing the plot.

Honouring unsung heroes

Integrity award winners provide a sense of hope and empowerment – they demonstrate that it is possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things."

- Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle

It’s important to celebrate those who go above and beyond in the fight against corruption and bring international attention to their actions. Many of our winners work in difficult circumstances and have been intimidated by those in power. Too often, those who fight the hardest for a fairer world go without recognition.

Their struggles and successes are a source of inspiration to all of us and a reminder that it is possible to stand up to corruption.

This year’s Integrity Awards ceremony will be held in Berlin and will form part of Transparency International’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

Make your nomination for the 2013 Integrity Awards here.

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