By David Yusuf Kabia, Public Relations Assistant, ACC
This Article focuses on the relevance of indiscriminate inclusion in the fight against corruption, narrowing in on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and those operating in the informal sector bringing out how their contributions to this graft war remain a must should we succeed in winning same.
According to the ‘UNITED NATIONS WOMEN DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION, “In the fight against corruption, everybody has a role to play to ensure that no one is left behind” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes). This position underscores the need for indiscriminate inclusion of all persons in the fight against corruption bearing in mind the importance of winning such a fight permeates race, sex and physical ability. Discriminating against players in this all-fight-for-country therefore, only diminishes the seriousness and hence the result expected in curbing this graft.
Persons with disability otherwise known as PWDs are part of the World Order and respond equally to the effect of corruption like any abled-bodied person would. Their significance in society like us all is dependent on structures put by the State to ensuring the equitable welfare of all persons. While they continue to suffer many forms of public discrimination like the unavailability of frameworks and policies to ensuring equitable enjoyment of their human rights in line with their disabilities, constitute a belief that their contributions to societal progress make little but no impact. But the question is, does corruption thwart access to their share of society’s cake given their disability status? The former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan on the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) highlighted corruption’s indiscriminate ill-effects against PWDs in violating human rights and destruction of livelihood of all persons including PWDs, noted that “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.” That corruption destroys all manner of persons is the more reason all manner of persons must contribute to fighting this scourge in a bid to save humanity from its dreadful claws that account for untold human suffering.
The ACC as a law enforcement institution established on the importance of safeguarding the entirety of Sierra Leoneans by ensuring corruption does not cart away with their livelihood has always underlined the significance of indiscriminate inclusion in the fight against corruption hence some of its staff are PWDs, yet are provided with the enabling environment to conveniently work regardless of their workstations at any given time. The Commission’s Disability Policy speaks clear and tough on the protection of PWDs in the enjoyment of their human rights except where that enjoyment conflicts with dictates of the ‘Grundnorm’ (the fundamental laws of the State). In Sierra Leone, the discrimination of PWDs is mostly captured within the public space. This discrimination comes in various forms ranging from the unpreparedness of the streets to providing the access needed by PWDs to be used unaided. This accounts for the blind struggling to conveniently find their way along the streets of Freetown except through aid and it corroborates reasons behind the blind trouble in accessing public buildings because same are without braille provision to let them read and understand public messages for proper use of facilities. This seeming accessibility discrimination cannot be unconnected to corruption hence the magnitude of public stolen resources are always, first, resources allocated to champion public courses that would benefit citizens including PWDs.
The query over their contribution to the fight against corruption is best answered when they (PWDs) are enlisted to join this graft fight. Aside employing them, as the Commission has done with many, Section 81 in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 (as amended in 2019) also provides for informers which same provision is in tandem with the Commission’s Whistleblower scheme that both the abled bodied and PWDs can use to holding public officials to account. This, therefore is an urgent call for the indiscriminate inclusion of PWDs and provision of equitable standing on the human rights table like other persons. This inclusion is believed would end their discrimination by continuously providing the safe space for their education, livelihood, employment, use of social services and more.
The resources being syphoned into personal coffers are indiscriminately the resources of all persons in Sierra Leone. The injuries caused by corruption affects all persons. This non-discriminate approach by corruption in the destruction of public resources calls for unification by all in fighting back in order to protect our resources. PWDs can contribute meaningfully by reporting corruption, holding public officials to account, refuse being corrupt and exposing every instance of corruption as is expected of all persons. Therefore, their being enlisted to help the Commission can only help to protect the very resources of which misuse and misappropriation by public officials has left beneficiaries of public funds deprived. In that vein, Sadhguru elegantly had this to say, “What we need is inclusive human beings, that everyone of us will do whatever is within our capability – whatever is possible, we will do for the wellbeing of all life around us”