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2007 Integrity Awards Winners announced

Transparency International award recognises an international anti-bribery leader and a grassroots activist

A Vietnamese grassroots anti-corruption activist and a leading legal expert working against international bribery have been chosen as winners of the 2007 Transparency International (TI) Integrity Awards, TI announced today. TI is the global anti-corruption organisation with approximately 100 national chapters worldwide.

Since retiring in 1984, Le Hien Duc, a Vietnamese school-teacher, has become a resourceful anti-corruption fighter by filing complaints and helping fellow citizens to challenge petty bribing and large-scale graft. Her respect for authority ends where corruption begins. Duc has tracked down high and low-level officials through different means, at home or in the office, to ensure that they cannot ignore the victims of corruption claiming their rights. In spite of many threats, she provides hope and encouragement for stopping acceptance of corruption.

Warning of an early death has been delivered to her door in the form of an empty coffin but this 75 year-old is full of anti-corruption energy. Whether it is allegations of graft in the school system or bribing by police on the road, Duc does not back off until the concerns of those afflicted by corruption are dealt with in a fair manner.

“Justice usually requires persistence and Ms. Duc’s refusal to accept indifference as an answer is an inspiration and sets an example for anyone who has been wronged through corruption,” said Sion Assidon, Chair of the Integrity Awards Committee.

Mark Pieth, a criminal law and criminology professor at the University of Basel in his native Switzerland, has provided outstanding leadership in fighting corruption on an international scale. Prof. Pieth has countered corruption not only as a co-founder of the Basel Institute on Governance but as chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions and as a member of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the Iraq Oil-for-Food Programme of the United Nations. His willingness to publicly criticise governments that fail to implement the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and those that did not to provide enough support to identify companies that paid kickbacks in the oil-for-food scandal, are admirable.

Powerful governments have tried to stop his criticism and he has withstood attempts to oust him from the OECD’s anti-bribery group. Prof. Pieth has stood his ground and never stopped being outspoken about the need to implement the anti-bribery rules that countries have committed to. Ensuring that foreign bribery, money laundering and other related activities of the corrupt are stopped, have been a core priority of Prof. Pieth for over 19 years.

“His criticism is always anchored on legal grounds and the belief that bribery is not a way to do business anywhere in the world. Without him, neither the OECD Convention nor the monitoring of its implementation would be a reality. Legal documents require people like Prof. Pieth to bring them alive, make them real and rid our world of corruption,” said Assidon.

Now in its sixth year, the Integrity Awards have honoured individuals and organisations from Asia and Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. These have included journalists and public prosecutors, accountants and government officials along with leaders of civil society.

The TI Integrity Awards Committee consists of 11 individuals from across the world who have been active in the anti-corruption movement for many years. They serve as the jury for the awards and confer with the TI Board of Directors. Nominations are accepted for individuals and organisations and are subject to independent vetting under the guidance of the Integrity Awards Committee.

The 2007 Integrity Awards winners will be honoured at a ceremony to be held on 21 January 2008 in Berlin with the generous support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH. The ceremony will be open to the press.

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TI is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

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Download pictures of Le Hien Duc and Mark Pieth.

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Gypsy Guillén Kaiser
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