Ahead of the inauguration of President George Manneh Weah, Transparency International and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), have called on the incoming government of Liberia led by the Congress for Democratic Change and Mr. Weah to follow through on commitments to clean up government and tackle corruption.
A document released on 19 January says CENTAL, Transparency International’s chapter in the West African nation, has issued a series of reform and policy recommendations to the new government, in advance of the inauguration of President Weah on Monday, 22 January.
“Liberia has a protracted history of corruption and bad governance, which have consistently undermined sustainable development and effectiveness and efficiency in public service,” said Anderson Miamen, executive director of CENTAL.
He continues that stakeholders in Liberia and around the world are eagerly waiting to see whether the new administration will break away from the ugly past and robustly attack corruption, or whether impunity and the shielding of allegedly corrupt officials will persist.
Based on global best practice and the past experience of anti-corruption campaigners in Liberia, the group recommends important first steps through which it says the new government can pragmatically deal with corruption in the public sector.
The steps recommended include ensuring the independence of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and giving it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
Another recommendation is to establish specialized anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delay; enact a Corrupt Offences Act to clearly define and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption and to enact a Whistleblower Protection Law to encourage more Liberians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues.
The group recommends that Weah administration require all public officials, including the president, to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government. It wants the government to independently verify and publish these declarations of assets.
It further recommends the review and impartial implementation of reports and recommendations by integrity institutions in a timely manner, and to establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
It notes that the new government must audit the legislature just like any other branch of government or institution that receives public funds; and that the 52nd and 53rd legislatures in particular should be audited and any recommendations from the audit report be fully implemented.
It finally calls for increase in financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
In addition, it says those appointed to key positions in government should be of impeccable character, willing and committed to serve in the best interest of the people rather than to acquire illicit wealth.
“The culture of impunity and shielding of alleged and proven corrupt officials must be abolished. The President must generate the necessary political will to prosecute officials accused of corruption and the abuse of public resources,” CENTAL adds.
It calls on the government to also work to establish a safe and secure environment for anti-corruption agencies, civil society organizations, media and other advocates. It says the current space for constructive engagement between stakeholders should be maintained and broadened further in order to consolidate efforts against corruption.
CENTAL says it has been a key partner in the fight against corruption in Liberia and it wishes to remain constructively engaged under the new administration. The organization says it will be tracking the government’s progress on the areas outlined above.—Press release