The TI Integrity Awards 2003 go to the Director General of a government watchdog agency, an Auditor General who blew the whistle on the Cabinet, and a rural campaigner against corruption in government
The Transparency International (TI) Integrity Awards 2003 will be awarded to Dr Dora Akunyili, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration in Nigeria, Sua Rimoni Ah Chong, the former Auditor General of Samoa, and Anna Hazare, an Indian campaigner against corruption in forestry and in government.
The fourth annual TI Integrity Awards will be presented at the opening ceremony of the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Seoul, Korea, on 25 May. Posthumous recognition will also be given to Abdelhai Beliardouh, an investigative journalist from Algeria, and Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, the chairman of the largest commercial bank in Mozambique, both of whom died while taking a stand against corruption.
The TI Integrity Awards seek to recognise the courage and determination of the many individuals and organisations fighting corruption around the world. This year the selection committee, composed of representatives of TI national chapters as well as Integrity Award 2001 winner Eva Joly, received valid nominations from more than 40 countries and every continent.
Dr Dora Akunyili, 48, Director General of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and a pharmacologist by training, has defied death threats while tackling corrupt practices in the manufacturing, import and export of drugs, cosmetics and food products. Since taking up her position in April 2001, Dr Akunyili has earned nationwide respect for her persistence in prosecuting illegal drug traders and in imposing strict standards on multinational companies. In particular, she has pursued manufacturers and importers of counterfeit drugs, deemed to be a leading cause of deaths by stroke and heart failure in Nigeria. Counterfeit drugs worth an estimated US$16 million have been confiscated and destroyed by Dr Akunyili and her staff, in the process saving the lives of thousands of innocent Nigerians.
Sua Rimoni Ah Chong, 50, former Controller and Chief Auditor of Samoa, faced serious threats when he exposed financial crime at the highest levels of government of Samoa in the South Pacific. From 1992 to 1995 Ah Chong refused to authorise illegal payments to Cabinet Ministers. When in 1994 his Annual Report to Parliament implicated six out of 13 ministers over improper activities and payments, the Cabinet appointed a Commission of Inquiry, not into the irregularities, but into the Chief Auditor himself. The committee's members included several of the persons criticised in his report. He was suspended in July 1995 and later, after the Constitution was amended for that purpose, dismissed. He is still fighting a legal battle against his suspension and dismissal.
Anna Hazare (as Kisan Babu Rao is widely known) is a renowned anti-corruption campaigner in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Hazare, now 64, has been campaigning for more than 20 years to end corruption in government. Due to Hazare's efforts, two ministers in the ruling party in Maharashtra resigned over corruption and the government proceeded against corrupt officials in the forest department. Hazare and a team of lawyers now handle corruption cases brought to their attention by citizens. Having submitted more than 700 cases to the government, he has threatened to fast from 9 August 2003 unless appropriate action is taken against the corrupt politicians and officials.
In addition to the three Integrity Awards winners at the ceremony on 25 May, TI will also pay posthumous tributes to two people who lost their lives while fighting corruption. Abdelhaï Beliardouh, an investigative journalist for the weekly El Watan in the town of Tébessa, close to the Tunisian border, was writing a series of reports on corruption in cross-border trade. His reports led to his kidnapping and torture by an armed gang. The violence against him drove him to take his own life. He died on 19 November 2002.
António Siba-Siba Macuácua was due in two days to submit a report on the financial situation of Austral Bank, the largest commercial bank in Mozambique, when he was murdered, aged 33, in the bank's offices on 11 August 2001. Director of the Department of Banking Supervision at the Central Bank, Siba-Siba Macuácua had been made acting chairman of Austral Bank to oversee its re-privatisation. Before his death, he published a list of the bank's debtors, and tracked down and cancelled bogus contracts. His murder remains unresolved.
In recognising Beliardouh and Macuácua, TI hopes to send a strong message to the international community of the need to support those who, under the threat of violence and intimidation, continue to show integrity in their efforts to uncover injustice and corruption.
The TI Integrity Awards 2003 ceremony will take place on 25 May 2003.
A broadcast video of the TI Integrity Award 2003 winners will soon be available on request
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