Caribbean anti-corruption agencies have called for stronger legislation and an intensified public education programme to tackle corruption in the region.
The Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies issued a joint statement after a week-long meeting in Turks and Caicos.
Focusing on the theme, ‘Counting the real cost of corruption – engaging everyone in the fight’, participants pledged to do more to involve the public in anti-corruption efforts. They agreed to work together to “reinvigorate political will” and encourage nationwide commitments to battle corruption.
This is the third meeting of the association, which was established in 2015 to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas and good practices among members.
Commonwealth head of public sector governance, Roger Koranteng, who helped to set up the association said, “The cancer of corruption has spread to every corner of our globe, and it is pilfering around USD 1.5 to 2 trillion from the global economy in bribes, not counting foregone tax revenues and economic growth, every year.
“This particular meeting comes at a critical juncture where there is a heightened recognition of the need to involve everyone in the fight against corruption.
“We explored ways in which we could intensify public education and citizens’ engagement. Surveys, data gathering and collaborating with schools and groups that work with children and young people were some of the important approaches we agreed.”
The organisations also pledged to continue supporting each other by sharing expertise and best practice, and developing and implementing regional anti-corruption model legislation in keeping with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The Convention covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalisation and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange. It also deals with many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and acts of corruption in the private sector.
Virginia Abayo Marques from the United Office on Drugs and Crime praised the Commonwealth for using its convening power to bring anti-corruption agencies together.
She said, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Commonwealth Secretariat for promoting this initiative. Bringing together experts of anti-corruption authorities from the Commonwealth Caribbean to act as a think-tank is essential to identifying issues of corruption concerning the region and to generate constructive solutions, ideas, policies, to advance the prevention and fight against corruption in the Commonwealth Caribbean.”
The conference came on the heels of a summit of African heads of anti-corruption agencies in Abuja, Nigeria last month.