A distinguished array of leaders from various integrity institutions, government representatives including ministries, legal entities, representatives of collaborating agencies, donor organizations converged at a local resort for a conference on the Validation of Findings for the Assessment of the 2006 National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
Sponsored by the Governance Commission, and backed by support from the African Development Bank, the gathering listened to a presentation on the findings by Dr. John E. Harvey, an internationally-renowned consultant, backed by Dr. Alpha Sampson, both of the DAH Consulting, Inc.
An oversight of the occasion was presented by Atty. Bornor M. Varmah, Program Manager, National Integrity Systems Mandate Area, who briefly outlined the aspects of the assessment.
He said, “It represents a national plan of action for fighting corruption and consists of time bound specific actions to be undertaken by government and stakeholders…”
Introducing the occasion, Commissioner Ruth Jappah of the NISM lauded Dr. Harvey for the report noting that the assessment calls for more interventions to fight corruption such as a whistle blower protection order, corrupt offenses and a corruption court.
She said, “Budgets for the fight against corruption are not aligned with the scope of strategy. In other words, the fight is underfunded.”
Quoting the report, Mrs. Jappah said, “Legislation constituting agencies and commissions have been written in isolation and without due diligence, resulting in conflicting roles and responsibilities.”
The commissioner stressed, “We must move from finger-pointing to clasped hands; we must develop political and cultural mores which elevate the fight against corruption and we must provide a program which shows the way out of this dilemma and then lead the way.”
In his presentation, Dr. Harvey stressed that sustainability plans and mechanisms need to be developed to support anti-corruption and the rule of law programs. “Anti-corruption enforcement, justice and security programs, once implemented, have been severely under-funded in their current configurations.”
He said integrity institutions should be further assessed and strengthened to increase their capacity to effectively achieve their mandates. Planned reforms should include sustainability plan as current arrangements have resulted in deterioration of facilities and reversal of gains.
He noted that anti-corruption planning has made considerable progress and some expected results have been accomplished but added that a number of areas have experienced poor performance as it relates to key outcomes such as “criminalizing and prosecuting corrupt cases.”
The assessment, as revealed by Dr. Sampson from a survey conducted in the process, reported various areas of rampant corruption, for example, the Judiciary, 87 percent and Legislature, 92 percent, adding that any anti-corruption strategy must address the issue of bribery, which he said is the most frequent form of corruption.
The report noted that 92 percent of those interviewed said they have witnessed corruption while 93 percent confessed they did not report the corrupt acts they experienced.
He said by the very nature of our society, “Systems and process have been created to support bribery,” adding that this needs fixing.
There was the general belief that corruption afflicts our society, that it is ingrained in every aspect of life in society and the need for vigorous enforcement of laws to reduce the incidence. “Everything we do there is an element of corruption,” one participant said.
The program was moderated by Hon. James N. Verdier, Executive Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission who stressed the need for all integrity agencies to collaborate in the war against corruption. This collaboration should persist “so that we will not lose the fight against corruption,” he said. “We need to have more conversations to discuss corruption because it is pervasive.”