n the aftermath of a regime where corruption and fraud, wasteful expenditure, luxuries and extravagance reached their worst-ever proportions, Sri Lanka joins the world community in marking the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day tomorrow.
The UN in a message to mark the day says corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability.
As we saw in Sri Lanka, the UN says corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption.
On October 31, 2003, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties.
Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the media and citizens around the world are joining forces to fight this crime. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are at the forefront of these efforts, the UN says
The 2015 joint international campaign focuses on how corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. These were so similar to what happened in Sri Lanka and we hope will not happen again.
The campaign on the theme, “Break the Chain” also highlights that corruption is a cross-cutting crime, impacting many areas. It shows that acting against corruption is imperative to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
In Sri Lanka the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) in association with Transparency International, the public and private sectors and civil society activists have organized a “Walk against Corruption” and a ceremony to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day. On December 3 various activities including posters, leaflets and sticker campaigns were held to raise awareness among the people on the cancer of corruption and what must be done to fight it.
In the battle against corruption a leading figure and prophetic voice is that of the CIABOC’s new Director General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, a President’s Counsel and a former Additional Solicitor General. In the recent high profile case where three top Customs officers are alleged to have solicited Rs.125 million from a company owner to suspend his demurrage payments, the owner had complained to the CIABOC to bust this biggest ever bribery case. Ms. Wickramasinghe is reported to have taken a bold step. She had mortgaged her property and given the money to the complainant to be given to the Customs officers at a Colombo Hotel. The Director General and other CIABOC officers caught them in the act.
According to reports, more than 2,500 complaints have been made to the CIABOC and the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID), the latest being the allegation against former Securities and Exchange Commission’s chairman Nalaka Godahewa. He was arrested and remanded yesterday on charges of having given Rs.5 million to parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa. The money was reportedly given for an awareness programme among rural youth on investing in the stock market, but it was allegedly transferred to a third party bank account in the United States as payment for a hip hop dance group that performed at the Carlton Super Sevens Rugby Tournament last year.
The CIABOC Director General in a weekend speech appealed to the people also to cooperate with the authorities in tackling this scam and scandal. She said the government alone could not do it and the people need to cooperate by calling CIABOC’s hotline whenever they are faced with a case of bribery or corruption or see signs of a fraud. Thus tomorrow’s event is a call to the common people also to come forward in saving Sri Lanka from the curse and calamity of corruption.