2022

ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION OF SIERRA LEONE

An independent institution established for the prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of corruption, corrupt practices and to provide for other related matters. 

Contact us on: +23278832131 or info@anticorruption.gov.sl
Address: Cathedral House, 3 Gloucester Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

THE BENEFITS OF COLLABORATION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

ARTICLE

 By David Yusuf Kabia, Public Relations Assistant, ACC

Encapsulating the need for collective action in the fight against corruption, the United Nations (UN) in 2018 noted that, Collective action" is a collaborative and sustained process of cooperation between stakeholders. It increases the impact and credibility of individual action, brings vulnerable individual players into an alliance of like-minded organizations and levels the playing field between competitors. Collective action can complement or temporarily substitute for and strengthen weak local laws and anti-corruption practices.”

In Volume 2 Chapter 2 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report, corruption was identified as one of the primary reasons for the civil war that “…deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people to a state of poverty.” It would be thought that after the T.R.C publicly named and shamed actions by public officials that hurt the dignity and livelihood status of many Sierra Leoneans, caution would have been employed in the management of public resources in order to ensure sanity in the use and enjoyment of same. Unfortunately, corruption continued strengthening its tentacles even with the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2000.

Collaboration in protecting public resources before the civil war was an expected standard of integrity (but which was absent) among public servants. However, with the establishment of the ACC in 2000, Sierra Leone began the phase of reversing the long-held wrong belief by public servants over the use and management of public resources. That reversal process required the collaborative effort of all-citizens, government and both local and international institutions working around anti-corruption issues to ensure the protection of these resources.

HOW COLLABORATION HAS ADDED VALUE TO THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

Given the aforementioned collaborative deficit in fighting corruption, Sierra Leone’s current tremendous successes in the fight against corruption cannot be dissociated from effective collaboration.

The establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court of Sierra Leone

As a result of the strong political will, and huge collaboration with the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, there is now a Special Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court of Sierra Leone, by Constitutional Instrument No. 4 of 2019.Through this, ACC matters are now heard expeditiously. Before now, this deficit contributed to the slow pace in which matters of the Commission are prosecuted, which in turn affected the number of convictions yearly.

Transparency in Government

Through the Open Government Partnership, which reinforces governments to practice and promote transparency for better governance, the fight against corruption now collaborates with Government through MDAs to ensure public officials are transparent and accountable unlike the past, when activities of government were shrouded in secrecy. This openness has now given the public the needed confidence to request for information from public officials in a bid to deleting corruption by protecting public resources.

Recently, the work of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Africa has set benchmarks on transparency in the discharge of public duties which has brought renewed collaboration between the ACC and the OGP in the fight against corruption.

Holding public officials to account before the civil war was only a truth sleeping in books on shelves. Besides, the legal framework to so hold public officials to account for actions within the public space like the current Right to Access Information Act of 2009 was non-existent. Today, with this law, citizens can access any information about public resources within the public space. Many individuals and institutions have used the RAIA to monitor public resources, engage Heads of public institutions on their operations and use of funds and critically examine public documents.

 

In 2016, Joseph T.N. Lamin of The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law in his Article The Role of Civil Society in the Fight against Corruption in Sierra Leonewrote Yet another way by which civil society can be involved in the fight against corruption is to promote the idea of “integrity pacts” and maintain a presence at the signing of these agreements.”   These pacts should focus on specific contracts or transactions rather than ongoing institutional arrangements. The ACC today enjoys good partnership and collaboration with good governance and civil society institutions as it has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with these organizations. The Commission recently also signed an MoU with the Photographers Union which is to ensure that corruption spotted is recorded for reporting to the Commission.

 

Monitoring of the use of public resources by Civil Society Organizations. CSOs recently through signing of MoUs with the Commission have robustly embarked on the monitoring of the use of budgetary allocations to MDAs. This activity by these CSOs have helped the Commission succeed in the protection of public resources. Others like the Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) engages MDAs and assesses their compliance rate to the Right to Access Information Act passed in 2009. This compliance rating exercise by SDI underscores the significance in holding public officers to account by using the RAIA.

 

Reporting Corruption (Whistle blowing) and Increased Awareness

The media’s contribution to helping the Commission make the public aware of corruption and anti-corruption issues is as a result of the Commission’s collaboration with several media houses. This awareness raising has brought in the confidence needed to report corruption to ensuring the protection of public resources. Whistleblowers or Informers are provided for adequate protection in Section 81 of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019.

 

Based on the foregoing, it is an undeniable fact that, a successful fight against corruption cannot be done in isolation. All hands must be on deck and so is with the fight against corruption. Sierra Leone today enjoys winning the fight against corruption not because the ACC alone is fighting but because it is fighting together with the Government of Sierra Leone, the citizens, civil society organizations, the media, youths, the Judiciary, Parliament, the informal sector, accountability institutions, national and international anti-corruption watchdog institutions. This collaboration in the fight against corruption has brought Sierra Leone to this beautiful shore of unprecedented positive consistent rankings and ratings in anti-corruption control and perception benchmarks.