Gov’t Transparency, a Prerequisite to Anti-Corruption Commission
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
No wonder such a date could not be met. As we have witnessed last week, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, had to recourse to the proper channel of creating such an august institution by tabling a bill before the National Assembly for approval.
As expected, the National Assembly members unanimously endorsed ‘The Gambia Anti-Corruption Bill, 2012.’ This was done without the raising of queries that have so far too long been on the lips on many Gambians, as well as non-Gambians concerned with Gambian issues.
Nevertheless, the 40-page bill awaits a presidential assent or otherwise in not later than 30 days after the Thursday June 29th legislative approval. The Bill, among other things, seeks to prohibit and prescribe punishment for corruption and other related offences. Also, it establishes the Anti-Corruption Commission as envisaged by President Jammeh, vesting in the commission powers to investigate and prosecute both corruptors, and the corrupted.
Moreover, in what could be described as a bold move that of course has serious implications amid possible challenges with regards to legality of enforcement, the Bill also provides that any offence committed outside The Gambia by a Gambian citizen would be punished as if it were committed in The Gambia.
Furthermore, critical but often neglected by the criminal justice systems of even advanced countries is the issue of protection of informants and witnesses. Fortunately, in Anti-Corruption Bill, 2012, the protection of the person who gives information to the Commission in respect of an offence committed has been taken cared of.
All these gigantic steps, alongside similar others in recent times, such as the endorsement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act of 2012, the commissions on corrupt practices in fertilizer procurement and tax evasion are in the name of fighting against corruption, a menace that remains a major retarding factor to our economic development.
Daily News therefore disagrees with the law-makers in their judgement that the Bill was non-controversial. It was indeed controversial especially when it blatantly fails to adequately call for transparency in every public officials on the tax-payers’ bankroll, be they heads of state or a cleaner in a public-owned restaurant. The tax commission has come and gone amid wild accusations that it was selective. So was many other commissions accused. Now that the government declared more commitment in the fight against corruption, we hope, for instance, that President Jammeh would be more transparent about the source of his wealth. It is also hoped that generally, Gambia government will be more open to independent scrutiny on its operations as well as deals with others.