International the Gambia (ACIG), call on the government of the Gambia led by
Coalition 2016 and President Adama Barrow to follow through on AU commitments to
tackle the problem of corrupt practices and put in place the necessary
mechanism to clean up public and private sectors, civil society and transform
ACIG, has lobby government and issued series of public recommendations to the government, in advance of finalizing the “Anti-Corruption Bill” before it goes to parliament and encourage the administration to pursue and achieve the goals as set forth in the “AU Anti-Corruption Year 2018” statement.
The Gambia has a protracted history of corruption and bad governance, which have consistently undermined sustainable development and effectiveness and efficiency in public services delivery.
The world and stakeholders in The Gambia are eagerly waiting to see whether the political will expressed by the President will break away from the ugly past and vigorously fight corruption, or whether impunity and the denial of existence of corruption and defending allegedly corrupt officials will persist.
Based on universal anti-corruption principles and characteristic and the past experience of anti-corruption campaigners in the Gambia, the following recommendations are important steps through which the administration of Adama Barrow can pragmatically deal with corruption in the public and private sectors and work with the civil society to achieve that.
1. Enact an inclusive Anti-Corruption Act to clearly define graft and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption.
2. Ensure from the start independence of the Gambia Anti-Corruption Commission (AU Anti-Corruption Year 2018) and give it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
3. Establish specialised prosecutor office and anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delay.
4. Ensure inclusion of Whistle blower Protection in the Act to encourage more Gambians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues.
5. Require all public officials, civil servants including the president,to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government. The government and civil society must independently verify and publish these declarations of assets on line.
6. Review and impartially implement reports and recommendations by integrity institutions in a timely manner, and establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
7. Ensure that reports and recommendations of the Auditor General, Procurement Authority, public enterprises, the Ombudsman, parliamentary committee on corruption, commission of enquiry and other integrity institution are made public and on line and ensure such reports are fully implemented.
8. Strengthen public auditing of public enterprises by the legislature and make provisions for civil society involvement in the processes.
9. Increase financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
In addition, President Barrow should not just call for vigilance against corruption but should ensure that his cabinet members and public office holders are of impeccable character; willing and committed to open governance in the best interest of the people rather than make excuses about low salaries and find means to illicitly enrich themselves.
The culture of impunity and protecting of alleged and proven corrupt officials must be discredited and ceased. The President must ensure easy and equitable access to all public documents and generate the necessary political will to prosecute officials accused of corruption and the abuse of trusted authority.
The government must also work to establish a safe and secure environment for anti-corruption agencies, civil society organisations, media and the entire anti-corruption movement in the Gambia. The current space for constructive engagement between stakeholders should be maintained and broadened further in order to consolidate efforts against corruption.
ACIG has been a key partner in the fight against corruption in the Gambia and wishes to remain constructively engaged under President Barrow administration to implement “AU Anti-Corruption Year 2018” and submit annual report to the AU Advisory Board on Corruption and strive to achieve national anti-corruption agenda. The organisation will continue to track the government’s progress on the areas outlined in this press statement.