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African Union Summit is an opportunity to make good on anti-corruption convention commitments

Berlin, 2 February 2021 – African leaders meeting this week at the African Union Summit must redouble their efforts to tackle the root causes and enabling factors of corruption, Transparency International said today. A recent Transparency International report into implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC) in ten countries shows much room for improvement. The report finds gaps in enforcement and implementation of AUCPCC Articles related to money laundering, illicit enrichment, political party funding, and space for civil society and media.

Read the report: Implementing and Enforcing the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption: a Comparative Review

Paul Banoba, Africa Regional Advisor at Transparency International, said: “Commitments urgently need to turn into action. Africa is once again the worst performing region in the new Corruption Perceptions Index published last week. COVID-19 has highlighted the devastating impact of corruption in Africa, particularly on vulnerable communities. If the scourge of corruption is ever to be lifted from Africa, political leaders must prioritise anti-corruption measures. The African Union Executive Council and Assembly meetings taking place this week must be taken as an opportunity to redouble commitment and turn promises into decisive action.”

Transparency International urges the 11 African Union member states that have not done so to urgently complete the full ratification process of the AUCPCC. Countries that have ratified the convention should finalise and submit progress reports to the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC) as soon as possible. The AU should make all progress reports publicly available so that citizens can monitor their governments´ internationally agreed commitments on anti-corruption.

Transparency International also calls on all AU member states to invest in specialist technical skills and coordination capacity among investigators, prosecutors and other specialised professions to pursue complex corruption cases. The full independence of prosecutorial and judicial bodies must also be ensured so that offences can be prosecuted impartially.

All states parties to the AUCPCC should publish, on at least an annual basis, easily accessible disaggregated data on the enforcement of money laundering and illicit enrichment offences, and data on political party finances, including the amounts of public and private donations received and spent. Loopholes in laws on political campaign finance must urgently be closed, with proportional and effective sanctions for breaches, and caps on donations to avoid parties being captured by wealthy individuals.

Civil society and the media must be able to operate free of interference or intimidation, with all allegations of harassment of journalists and activists vigorously investigated.

“Governments in Africa can send an important signal of their support for independent media and civil society through more formal engagement with these and other stakeholders in implementing and monitoring the convention. In many countries, existing coalitions and multi-stakeholder platforms are ready to perform this role. Political leaders simply need to bring them into play,” Paul Banoba added.