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Transparency International wins Freedom Prize

Schmidheiny-Foundation recognises achievements in the fight against corruption

Transparency International has been awarded the prestigious Freedom Prize 1999 of the Max-Schmidheiny Foundation in Switzerland. The prize is to the value of SF200,000 and goes jointly to Transparency International and the Economist.

The Freedom Prize recognises the achievements of Transparency International (TI) in successfully placing the fight against corruption on the agendas of governments, international organisations and firms the world over.

TI Chairman, Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen, thanked the Schmidheiny Foundation for the award. "Corruption is a particularly telling example of how market freedom can be destroyed", Eigen said. He went on to say that in many countries, corruption means that people are deprived of freedom; investigative journalists are imprisoned or murdered, and citizen's initiatives which aim to combat abuse of office and nepotism are banned. "Freedom does not only mean having the freedom to do things, but also freedom from fear, from physical harm and from inhumane living conditions," Eigen explained.

"A Ugandan mother, forced to watch her child die because she has no money with which to bribe hospital staff, suffers as much from a lack of freedom as the export business, which in spite of quality products does not stand a chance in the face of a rival's bribery" said Eigen.

Eigen added that for TI, the award was also a recognition of the work of TI Switzerland. "Since its establishment, Transparency Switzerland has contributed greatly to raising awareness amongst the public as to the corruption problem and making a stand for tougher laws against corruption." In his speech at the Award ceremony, Eigen recognised Swiss efforts to repay plundered funds and to improve the monitoring of financial services. He raised the isse, however, that there is still no successfully functioning mechanism to regulate the repayment of these monies.

The TI Chairman welcomed the fact that Switzerland has signed the OECD anti- corruption convention and stressed his optimism that the Convention will be quickly transposed by the signature states into national law.

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