By Amie Sanneh
The Ministry of Justice in collaboration with UNDP will today validate the Draft Anti-Corruption Bill 2016 which seeks to establish an Anti- Corruption Commission. According to officials, the draft bill when enacted will also provide offences aimed at fighting against corruption.
“The draft Anti – Corruption Act under review today, is not only for the establishment of the Commission but also a tool through which the Commission would be empowered to fight corruption and corrupt practices through investigation, prosecution and asset recovery,” said Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Justice Minister.
Justice Minister Singhateh was speaking yesterday, 28 September, while opening a two day validation workshop of the Draft Anti- Corruption Bill 2016 held at a local hotel in Kololi.
She stressed that the Anti -Corruption Commission is going to be the competent authority responsible for raising awareness on corruption by taking the necessary action for prevention and investigation of alleged corrupt cases.
With the enactment of this Act and the establishment of the Commission, she noted, the Gambia Government is ready to not only implement the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption at the domestic level, but to also coordinate and cooperate with other nations and offer legal assistance where needed to curb out economic and organized crime related activities across their borders.
“Corruption in any country weakens the framework of government agencies. It therefore has a negative impact on national development and is without a doubt the number one enemy to progress and development of any country especially developing countries,” she said.
Minister Singhateh defined Corruption as the misuse of entrusted funds and power for private gain through the use of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with the position of authority. The effects of corruption, according to the Justice Minister, also undermine the principles of democracy and good governance. “Public service accountability, transparency and good governance are global issues in governmental administration in all countries but most especially in developing countries where issues of human rights abuses, nepotism, misappropriation of state funds and other resources, fraud, bribery to name but a few, have become the order of the day,” remarked Justice Minister Singhateh.
She expressed the Gambia Government’s commitment to tackle and control the menace it poses. She added that they are also ready to put in place the required legislative and infrastructural framework to fight this problem being aware of the prevalence of corruption in the country and recognizing its seriousness as a problem.
This, she went on, requires the effort of all stakeholders, government, non -governmental and civil society organisations to entrench good governance and activate competent internal control systems. She added that it would enable them to raise awareness and provide comprehensive and correct information regarding the nature, extent and impact of corruption along with available ant-corruption measures.
In preventing and combating corruption, the civil society and the media have an important role to play by raising public awareness and holding government accountable, she emphasised.
She called on participants to participate fully to ensure that the draft bill under discussion contains all the necessary provisions to establish an effective Anti Corruption Commission in the Gambia. She therefore stressed the need for all of them to harness their efforts to eradicate corruption and corrupt practices in the country. She finally commended United Nations Development Program for the support given to them in this process.