Commonwealth To Lead Fight Against Corruption

CHOGMM

The Commonwealth is making the fight against corruption a top priority at the ongoing 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, in Malta which is being attended by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a joint statement issued by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International and Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, the Commonwealth has decided to present a unified front to tackle the scourge that has bedevilled many of its members, stunting growth and development.

As an organisation that has members whose wealth is largely stolen and in many cases taken outside, the Commonwealth can play a leading role in stemming this tide, the statement said.

“Unchecked, corruption can choke off development, rob people of faith in their governments and sow the seeds of instability and conflict. But against this challenge, the Commonwealth has a tremendous opportunity to lead,” it stated.

“Corruption afflicts the Commonwealth in many ways. The Commonwealth includes both countries where vast amounts of wealth are stolen from the people and major financial centres that can be used to launder corrupt wealth. It is a community of nations with a set of shared values, shared sense of rule of law and a shared history of institutions. Because of all we share, the Commonwealth is a vital international forum to tackle this agenda.”

Thus, the Commonwealth is prepared to lead other countries in the fight against corruption and ahead of a proposed Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016 to be held in the United Kingdom, eight steps have been identified as key in whatever direction can be taken to address the problem.

The steps include, considering a formal Commonwealth scheme for cooperation and mutual legal assistance to fight corruption; expanding the Commonwealth Secretariat’s existing technical support to anti-corruption agencies and bringing professionals and practitioners together to help countries exchange ideas and find solutions tailored to their needs; learning from the insights of the Commonwealth Associations of Anti-Corruption Agencies and the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre, and strengthening Commonwealth financial centres to lead the world in standards of transparency, integrity and effective anti-money laundering systems.




     

     

    Others are, ensuring that all Commonwealth states meet the standards of beneficial ownership transparency that the G20 has agreed; building better frameworks for sharing information on corruption and money laundering risks, so that strengthening one financial centre does not displace the problem to another jurisdiction; raising standards of access to information rights for the public and whistle blower protections across the Commonwealth, and; reviewing the legitimacy of immunity for officials that guarantee against criminal proceedings across the Commonwealth and whether it can be reformed to end unnecessary high levels of protection that block justice for the corrupt.

    Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International, hailed the Commonwealth’s resolve to take a leading role in the fight against corruption.

    “We are delighted that the Commonwealth – which represents nearly a third of the world’s population – is taking the fight against corruption so seriously and treating it as a priority. Corruption has proven to be a major destructive force across the Commonwealth, ruining millions of lives and stunting development and growth,” Swardt said.

    “The Commonwealth is in a unique position to lead international anti-corruption efforts. Transparency International is proud to work together with the Commonwealth to support our vision of a world in which corruption is eradicated.”

     

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