Staying Steadfast in Combating Corruption

In a speech to the Ghanaian Parliament,  President Barack Obama made clear why fighting corruption is important: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. …  People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe.  We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do.”


At a Washington symposium earlier this year, David Luna, Director for Anticrime Programs, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, cited a new international treaty as a major means to advance the President’s anti-corruption goal: “Working with other partners, the United States helped to successfully negotiate the first comprehensive, near global treaty against corruption, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”

This treaty obligates 147 countries, including the United States, to criminalize many corrupt practices, such as the bribery of public officials and money laundering.  It provides new and groundbreaking measures to prevent corruption, and to recover assets illicitly acquired by corrupt leaders.  Most importantly, it establishes an international framework for countries to cooperate through mutual legal assistance, and to expand extradition to bring corrupt officials to justice.  Today the United Nations Convention Against Corruption is a key pillar of international cooperation in numerous multilateral forums including G20, APEC, and other anticorruption initiatives.

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In a message given in honor of the International Anti-corruption Day, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed the anti-corruption message:

“As we work together to eradicate corruption in our own countries, we should also maintain the highest standards of transparency and accountability in our development efforts around the world.”

“Corruption in emerging markets and fragile democracies undermines the confidence of citizens and investors alike,” said Secretary Clinton, “while responsible governance helps to foster sustainable economic development and political stability.”

It is rare that the silent majority speaks. It most often happens at certain times and under very strict parameters.

Elections are one of those times. Other, not scripted examples usually represent a catharsis. An emotional outburst of pent-up frustration. A reflexive reaction to righting a wrong or fury over a blatant miscarriage of justice.

Such eruptions can be mild to turbulent. Until this week , we saw the genesis of another “people outburst” when community figures bonded together through various initiatives to express their contempt at the farcical nature of anticorruption efforts in the country. We have witnessed the agitations of Anna Hazare and others who have vociferously fought against corruption . We have also seen the silent people of various states voting out the governments that were corrupt especially in states like Tamilnadu.

The people’s frustrations with corruption can be quantified into three issues: First, the depth and widespread nature of systemic corruption where everyone seems involved.

Second, the endless inaction with which each case is met. No longer is prosecution of a corruption case a deterrent, the fact that nothing ever seems resolved or perpetrators get away with it — even in jail — only discourages those who would be honest.

Graft convicts have become celebrities. Their prison escapes, plush cells and unremorseful attitude teach the nation that crime doesn’t pay, but corruption does! Now the country is awash with one case after another. Murky, convoluted and dim. Most destined to be swept under a rug of neglect many months later.

Third is the fear that these cases become commodities for political actors to trade and hold against each other. Each protagonist knows of the other’s skeleton in the closet.

What’s more disconcerting is that in the game of leverage, the most important tools in dismantling corruption – the agencies that are supposed to curb corruption are slowly being rendered toothless. Most recently we have seen a continuation of that trend, employing the same script, for the same malicious self-serving political ends.

We fully endorse and lend our editorial support for this moral movement to strengthen the anticorruption drive. We also re-pledge our well-known track record of exposing corruption either through silent protest or by explicit demonstrations. The most important message made last week through the efforts of Anna Hazare, was to remind the silent majority against being apathetic or losing hope in this fight.

We urge everyone to extend their moral voice to the righteousness of this movement. As long as a handful of decent individuals and institutions remain steadfast in this effort, there is more than ample hope for a better future.

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