The world recognises International Anti-Corruption Day

Today marks the United Nations’ International Anti-Corruption Day and the reinforcement of a campaign that raises awareness about extortion.

The aim of the initiative, which is called “United Against Corruption”, is to empower people in the identification of extorted areas by strengthening accountability and developing innovative solutions to prevent fraud.

Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a statement: “Corruption affects people in their daily lives. It bars them from accessing resources and opportunities. It erodes trust in public institutions and compromises the social contract.”

He added: “We cannot afford to let corruption threaten our future. Standing united against corruption, we are standing up for justice, protecting the rule of law and increasing the chances that prosperity in our societies can be enjoyed by all.”

The campaign’s schedule is considering the inclusion of young populations across the globe by utilizing the “Call to Action Matrix” guidance, which focuses on how to spot corruption in everyday life.

In the United Kingdom, the global movement Transparency International, alongside with other leading British organisations, launched its 2019 manifesto “Fighting Corruption“.

It is keen to promote “integrity in business, building trusted institutions, and restoring faith in democracy”.

According to this document, although the UK government has done well in combatting corruption overseas, it is also crucial to stand up against national extortion by supporting police officers and prosecutors, especially since Brexit plans are presently under political discussions.

However, London-based Clare Rewcastle Brown, who works in the field of investigative journalism focusing on corruption scandals, believes that libel laws in the British legal system impede progress towards achieving anti-corruption goals internally.

Rewcastle Brown said: “Although we are supposed to live in a country that has free speech, these old laws need to be reformed in order to recognise that. Actually, we live in a democracy where even ordinary people should be allowed to open their mouths and give their opinions.”

Rewcastle Brown also highlighted the importance of understanding that corruption, as a global concept, includes a variety of issues including poor moral and ethical values, and therefore a holistic approach is required.

The investigative journalist has been publicly denouncing corrupt business in Malaysia on her own blog, sarawakreport.org.

There, she has published several international scandals, such as the 2010 economic fraud between PetroSaudi Company and Venezuela’s state petroleum company PDVSA.

Obtaining copies of hidden documents, Sarawak Report, which used to operate anonymously, proved that the deals oil company PetroSaudi was presenting to the Venezuelan government lacked proper digging equipment.

The blog also showed figures demonstrating that the Venezuelan Oil Minister, Rafael Ramirez, was involved in corruption and was accused of misappropriating $11 billion during his ten years in the job.

According to Rewcastle Brown’s research, PetroSaudi International, which was founded by Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid in 2005, actually tried to establish links with the administration of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It was said that the company could “put money in projects that would gain Saudi diplomatic support in places where that can be crucial”.

At present, the Venezuelan government has been targeted by the United States for being responsible for antidemocratic actions, human rights violations, and corruption, imposing legal sanctions upon Venezuelan national authorities.

Humberto Torres, who is the president of the anti-corruption organisation Transparency Venezuela, said that high levels of extortion have deeply affected the Venezuelan population, resulting in today’s humanitarian emergency.

Torres added: “Our national crisis has not been caused by natural disasters, nor civil wars or any armed conflict as such, but just the persistence of corruption.”

Photo of functioning public hospital “Los Magallanes de Catia” in Caracas, Venezuela. © Gianni Mastrangioli

Regarding the Venezuelan collapse, Daniel Johnson MSP said that the Scottish government is “very concerned about human rights in Venezuela” and that they hope the situation “can be resolved peacefully”.

In fact, Scotland has designated £200.000 from the Humanitarian Energy Fund to assist Venezuelan refugees in Colombia.

UN’s Anti-corruption logo © United Nations

 

To mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, The United Nations will continue to support the recurring theme “United Against Corruption” until 2030.