Anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) in the Asia Pacific region must start prosecuting the rich and powerful to gain credibility, according to a new report published by Transparency International that surveyed six ACAs in countries across the region.
In addition, ACAs need to strengthen their accountability and oversight and protect their independence.
“Our report shows how important political and government commitment is to ensure that ACAs do their jobs effectively. ACAs need to demonstrate the courage and capacity to prosecute all, including the powerful without fear or favour,” said Iftekhar Zaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh.
Strengthening Anti-Corruption Agencies in Asia Pacific was launched today at a meeting of anti-corruption agency commissioners and anti-corruption activists convened in Bangkok by Transparency International to discuss the results.
ACAs are publically-funded organisations that investigate the corrupt and promote anti-corruption policies and practices. The report publishes the findings of research carried out in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It also makes general recommendations on how to increase the effectiveness of ACAs that are relevant throughout the world.
The report looked at seven key components of anti-corruption agencies and used a specially developed methodology to score how effective they are based on 50 different indicators.
“We hope this report will help ACAs to share their experiences and learn from each other. This is key to building a stronger network of ACAs in the region,” said Natalia Soebagjo, board member of Transparency International and board member of Transparency International Indonesia.
The report makes the following key recommendations based on a study of the seven key areas noted above:
Governments and political parties
- The independence of ACAs should be ensured, in terms of the selection and appointment of the ACAs’ leadership and staff.
- The law must grant ACAs extensive powers to investigate, arrest and prosecute.
- ACAs must be allowed full freedom to discharge their legal mandate impartially, without interference from any quarters.
- There must be an independent oversight mechanism to monitor ACAs’ functions and practices: for example, a parliamentary oversight committee and/or a committee comprising a cross-section of professional groups and civil society.
- ACAs must be adequately resourced
For the anti-corruption agencies:
- ACAs must demonstrate their ability and willingness to investigate and prosecute those who are involved in grand corruption (the “big fish”), and to impose appropriate sanctions.
- ACAs must lead by example and ensure that their officials and staff practice proactive disclosure of assets, undertake public reporting of their activities and guarantee public access to information.
- ACAs must engage with citizens to educate them, through community relations programmes, on the negative consequences of corruption, and to mobilise their support for their anti-corruption activities.
“When government support is lacking, the battle is hard for ACAs to function independently and to get the resources they need to deliver well. On the other hand, when the ACAs themselves fail to make best use of their legal and institutional mandate, it is even worse,” added Zaman of Transparency International Bangladesh.
At a launch event in Bangkok on 25 October the heads of six ACAs discussed the report’s findings. Attendees also shared experiences of ACAs’ roles in their countries and the relationship between ACAs, civil society and governments.
Note to editors:
To read the full report, Strengthening Anti-Corruption Agencies in Asia Pacific, click here.
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