Press Statement by: Anti-Corruption International The Gambia on Commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Anti-Corruption International The Gambia would like to thank the Coalition government for establishing the Janneh Commission to look into the affairs of the former president Mr. Yaya Jammeh and his close associates, the unwavering commitment that the Janneh Commission and staff have shown to this hearing and for gathering important information to expose the corrupt practices of the former regime is a positive start in the fight against corruption.

The Janneh Commission is playing an important role in national efforts to end impunity for the many grand and serious petty corruption of national concern and Anti-Corruption International The Gambia fully supports its efforts to create awareness and prepare a way to hold corrupt officials and private individuals to account and achieve equitable and sustainable development for all the people residence in the Gambia without any form of discrimination.

Anti-Corruption International The Gambia also welcomes the effort of the Minister of Justice and his staff to draft an anti-corruption bill that should be validated by all stakeholders, make provision for whistle blowers, and an anti-corruption commission that is accessible by all, as well as drafting Right to Information Bill to motivate interested parties contribute to genuine transparency and accountability, plus effective implementation of the dictates of the drafted Anti-Corruption Bill. We are also encouraged by the improvements in the transformative media operational environment.

Whilst corruption and corrupt practices awareness in the Gambia is beginning to show signs for cautious optimism, Anti-Corruption International The Gambia would be remiss to accept the narrative that the situation cannot be normalised. As noted in the numerous anti-corruption indicators, the level of corruption remains rampant and out-of-hand, particularly in service delivery, procurement, financial market, security, national and local governance, judiciary, and inadequate engagement of civil societies.  Also, of particular concern is the continued use of draconian laws – False Information Act – to silence and discourage good intentions to fight corruption and corrupt practices, although it is noted that unreported corruption and corrupt practices in the former regime contributed to massive financial fraud, large scale money laundering and outright stealing and misappropriation of public funds by the former president and his cronies.

As we have said many times before in numerous interactive discussions with officials of the public sector, fighting corruption is not a witch hunt or character assassination rather it is a drive for permanent cessation of inappropriate behavior and system adjustment that addresses the root causes of abuse of power for personal again. Capacity building and transformation will be vital in this regard. We note the Government’s ongoing Janneh Commission campaign but are concerned by the continue corruption and corrupt practices in both public and private sector and which threaten to undermine the recent democratic gains.

We therefore urge the Government of The Gambia to pursue a balanced fight against corruption and corrupt practices, with full respect for human rights and international anti-corruption mechanisms, and in close cooperation with civil societies and UNCAC.

With regard to the currently stalled anti-corruption draft bill process, we urge the Minster of Justice to consult all parties to capitalise on the input of the private sector by re-focusing their efforts on making sure that the ministry engaged civil societies before submitting the final anti-corruption draft to Cabinet for approval and then parliament for enactment.

The progress that Minster of Justice and his team has made in completing the draft anti-corruption bill is welcome but we continues to be frustrated that such an important bill was twice validated without a single civil society representation. We renew our call to the Minister of Justice and all State Actors to cooperate with the Anti-Corruption International The Gambia fight to change and end corruption in The Gambia. We also urge them to consult the Civil Societies umbrella body to co-operate with it for any reason.

We also welcome and thank the Office of the President for its continued efforts to achieve good governance and fight against corruption for the good of The Gambia, despite the numerous challenges. The Organization also appreciates the effort that the Minster of Justice and his team has put into making the most effective and efficient use of the resources it has available, while recognising that the lack of resources does impact on its drafting an effective and inclusive anti-corruption bills.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the Anti-Corruption International The Gambia’s commitment to supporting the public sector to adjust to system transformation. We thank the President of the Republic of The Gambia again for his commitment to good governance and fight against corruption.

Thank you Mr President.