— Corruption Perception Index 2019 Reports; CENTAL calls on Government to act now
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), one of the leading civil society organizations in Liberia, has called on the administration of President George M. Weah to thoroughly enforce the existing global, regional and national laws, policies and frameworks for fighting against corruption in the country.
CENTAL’s calls follows the just-released 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report, which ranked Liberia as one of the “Worst Decliners” worldwide in the fight against corruption.
At a news conference held in Monrovia, CENTAL Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, expressed dismay over Liberia’s rating in the latest Corruption Perception Index 2019 report released by Transparency International, the Global Coalition against Corruption.
Mr. Miamen said it is regrettable to note that Liberia’s score significantly dropped to 28; four points down from the 2018 score of 32. “Liberia now ranks 137/180 and sits further down the table compared to its 2018 rank of 120/180,” he noted.
According to him, Liberia has therefore joined the list of countries significantly declining countries on the CPI since 2012. He named Congo (19), Madagascar (24) and Malawi (31). He added that with the exception of Saint Lucia that has dropped sixteen (16) points since 2012, only Liberia and Syria have fallen thirteen (13) points since 2012.
He noted that Liberia’s highest score of 41 was attained in 2012 and it has failed to perform any greater since. Instead, Liberia has slid back into fostering a culture of corruption and significantly undermined gains made in strengthening governance, financial management, and the rule of law.
He recalled that Liberia’s improved performance in 2012, was as a result of the passage of key laws, as well as the establishment and strengthening of public integrity institutions. “Liberia has since failed to make these institutions and laws work, as the laws are not enforced or respected and public integrity institutions not fully supported, morally and financially to deliver,” Mr Miamen stated.
Miamen also said CENTAL is deeply concerned about Liberia’s continuous underperformance, especially its current position among the worst decliners worldwide; something which he said speaks to the government’s inability to address the entrenched culture of impunity and enforce existing anti-corruption laws and policies.
He said the Government of Liberia’s limited or lack of effort to comprehensively audit the past administration and prosecute alleged corrupt officials, as well as limited moral and financial support to public integrity institutions, is counterproductive to the fight against corruption in the country.
“We urge the Government of Liberia to lead by example in dedicating sufficient resources to the war against corruption, which remains hugely disappointing at the moment,” he added.
Mr. Miamen also said there can be no successful fight against corruption if the rule of law is not upheld; “if the laws work for others and not just highly-placed persons or those connected to higher-ups in government; and if, among other things, investigations into major scandals, including the $25 million Mop-Up Exercise, are disappointingly endless with no sense of finality.”
He further calls on the Liberian Government to prioritize and vigorously fight against corruption. He also indicated that there can be no better time to do so than now, especially when the country’s economy is seriously challenged and the negative impacts of corruption are glaringly visible across the country.
CENTAL, through its Executive Director, reiterates its call for the CDC-led Government to move away from talks to actions; from future to now; and from delay to speed, in taking the necessary steps to decisively address Corruption in Liberia. He acknowledged that Liberia has lost millions to corruption that must be identified, retrieved and re-invested into the economy to help alleviate the hardship ordinary citizens currently face.
CENTAL’s Recommendations to GoL
Mr Miamen further recommend the timely implementation of anti-corruption commitments in the Pro-Poor Agenda for prosperity and Development (PAPD), the speedy establishment of a specialized Anti-Corruption Court, as well as the provision of direct prosecutorial power to the LACC to aid in timely processing and prosecuting Corruption Cases.
In the recommendations, he stressed the need to commission a comprehensive audit of the past administration to ensure that those who embezzled public resources are identified and prosecuted. Also, recommendations contained in existing reports of LACC, GAC, IAA and other integrity institutions must be timely implemented.
He further urged the government to address impunity through the prosecution of alleged corrupt officials of the current regime.
However, he maintained that the investigation into the $25 million mop-up exercise must be completed and those implicated prosecuted timely and impartially. He further cautioned the government to increase the moral and financial support to public integrity institutions to operate fully and independently among other things.