Fighting corruption: the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission

Fighting corruption: the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission

A well-financed and independent anti-corruption agency or commission can be a strong weapon in the fight against corruption. They need support, however, from both the government, judiciary and law enforcement if they are to do their jobs.

Above all they need independence: they need to establish their credentials as independent investigators dedicated to fighting corruption both inside and outside government.

The first anti-corruption commission was set up in Singapore in 1952, followed by Malaysia and Hong Kong, giving Asia the reputation as the “cradle” of anti-corruption agencies (ACAs). Today there are nearly 150 such entities throughout the world.

ACAs often emerge in a context of corruption scandals. They are formed through broad political consensus and are regarded by most stakeholders as the ultimate response to corruption. However, they can find themselves at the centre of political controversy if they decide to investigate those in power.

Thailand’s Anti-Corruption Commission under threat

In Thailand the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which was formed in 1999, is coming under increasing pressure in a tense political situation because it has named the current prime minister in an investigation into corruption in the rice market.

There are allegations that the National Rice Pledge Scheme, which is headed by the prime minister, is involved in a scam that has cost Thai taxpayers US$15 billion over the past two years.

The NACC has had to protect its staff from grenade attacks and issue a statement explaining it is acting as a neutral entity. Government supporters are claiming it is biased and have barricaded its offices.

In 2010 the Thai NACC and the Thai government hosted the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok, a global gathering of more than 1,500 anti-corruption practitioners.  During that conference, the president of the NACC spoke openly about the challenges in investigating public figures.

The Bangkok Declaration concluded that the work of anti-corruption agencies needs to remain a national priority, and noted that for anti-corruption agencies to be independent, they must be preserved either in a constitution or an appropriate statute.

Good practice

In 2012 a set of standards and principles on what makes a good anti-corruption commission or agency were agreed upon by the anti-corruption community at a meeting in Jakarta. These include:

Transparency International supports the creation of ACAs to help in the fight against corruption, and calls on governments to support and protect these institutions to fulfil their mandates by ensuring that they are given the independence and resources to do their jobs effectively. 

During political crises, such as the one in the Thailand, it is important that no side tries to hijack the agenda of the anti-corruption commission and that the work is allowed to continue free from threats and intimidation.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Latest

Support Transparency International

The terrible consequences of police corruption in South Africa

What do we do when those mandated to protect us are serving other interests than public safety and security? In South Africa, police corruption leaves the public exposed to high rates of crime, and causes distrust of the police service while allowing crime to flourish.

Why do DRC citizens report such high levels of corruption?

People's experiences with corruption in the DRC are far worse than in most other African countries. Why is corruption so prevalent in the DRC, why is bribery so commonplace and why do two thirds of citizens feel powerless?

Is Mauritius at a tipping point in the fight against corruption?

According to the latest GCB for Africa, very few Mauritians who accessed public services, like health care and education, had to pay a bribe for those services. But given recent scandals, citizens still see certain groups and institutions as corrupt.

Protecting Africa’s wildlife from corruption

When they deliberate over amendments to the global wildlife trade regime, CoP18 must address impunity for illegal timber trafficking in Africa as a matter of high priority.

How the US can help Mongolia get to grips with corruption

A series of bi-lateral meetings and a proposed trade agreement present an opportunity for the US to promote rule of law and an independent judiciary in Mongolia.

Blood diamonds and land corruption in Sierra Leone

A community in Sierra Leone has created powerful short videos documenting their experiences of corruption, forced evictions and a botched resettlement programme at the hands of a multinational diamond mining company.

Countries must be more transparent when investigating transnational corruption

Supervisory and justice systems should be transparent and accountable so that the public can assess their performance.

Resilient institutions

Reducing corruption is an important component of the sustainable development agenda, and one that all state parties have an obligation to address. Although corruption is often thought of as a ‘third-world problem’, institutions in the Global North play an important role in the corruption cycle, and are therefore an essential part of the solutions.

In whose interest? Political integrity and corruption in Africa

What accounts for the wide disparity in peoples’ perceptions of the integrity of elected representatives in different countries? In this piece, we will to look at various forms of political corruption, how they manifest in African countries and what can be done to promote political integrity.

Cidadãos opinam sobre a corrupção em África

A décima edição do Barómetro Global de Corrupção (GCB) – África revela que embora a maioria das pessoas na África acreditem que os níveis de corrupção aumentaram no seu país, elas também se sentem otimistas, pois acreditam que os cidadãos podem fazer a diferença no combate à corrupção.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media