Court upholds TI’s use of publicly available reporting to push anti-corruption reforms
Transparency International has successfully fought a civil lawsuit filed by former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who sought damages for his inclusion in a list of allegedly corrupt leaders. The list was published as part of Transparency International's Global Corruption Report 2004, which had political corruption as its thematic focus.
The case came before the state-level Berlin court (Landesgericht Berlin) on 18 August 2005. On 22 August the court decided entirely in TI's favour. Milosevic has now let the appeal window close, indicating his tacit acceptance of the court ruling.
"Justice has been served," remarked Transparency International Chairman Peter Eigen. "The court's decision was a validation of our mission and of the right of civil society to speak truth to power. Protecting this right is essential for just and democratic societies."
The figure of approximately US$1 billion allegedly stolen by Milosevic was drawn from an Associated Press report. The court ruled that TI was entirely within its rights to quote from a reliable media source in the interest of raising public awareness and advocating for anti-corruption reforms.
The table in the Global Corruption Report draws attention to the general issue of the misuse and sometimes outright theft of public funds by corrupt officials, and the attendant damage this causes. Leaders and civil servants often deposit such illicitly acquired funds in overseas banks. The United Nations Convention against Corruption, which will come into force in December 2005, provides a framework for recovering such funds and bringing the corrupt to justice anywhere in the world.
Transparency International is grateful for the strong and professional defence it received on a pro bono basis from top-tier law firm Covington & Burling.
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