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Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight: Key Findings and Recommendations from Multi-Country Assessments

Oversight is a core function of parliament, along with law making and representation. It entails how parliaments hold the executive branch of government to account on behalf of the people. Strong parliamentary oversight is essential to democracy and plays an important role in anti-corruption. Through rigorous checks on the executive’s actions, including investigating and holding government officials to account for abuses of power, such as corruption and human rights violations, strong parliamentary oversight can improve the quality of government to the benefit of the public.

For parliaments to effectively hold governments to account, key requirements include a strong legal mandate with clearly defined oversight powers, as well as conscientious members of parliament who make good use of those powers in practice.

This report provides a summary of key findings from our recent assessment of the strength of oversight mandate, practice and impact of parliaments in Armenia, Cambodia, Colombia, The Gambia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Panama, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The findings are based on the pilot implementation of a parliamentary oversight assessment tool, developed by Transparency International under the EU-funded Strengthening Accountability Networks among Civil Society project.

The strength of oversight mandate, practice and impact was assessed across the following six pillars:

- oversight as a priority for parliament

- oversight powers and tools of parliament

- oversight opportunities for opposition and independent members of parliament (MPs)

- financial oversight

- post-legislative scrutiny

- relations with other stakeholders to conduct oversight