Left In the Dark: Lack of information on anti-corruption efforts

18 June 2012.

Multi-country independent reviews find lack of access to information pervasive problem in global fight against corruption

Governments are still not providing enough information on how their fight against corruption is advancing, according to reviews of six countries by independent civil society organisations.

The reviews found a lack of access to information to be a persistent hindrance to citizens’ ability to assess their own government’s efforts to curb corruption. The reviews, which check for compliance with the 2003 UN Convention against Corruption in participating countries, will be submitted this week to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna as part of a weeklong meeting of governmental and UN representatives responsible for enforcement of the Convention.

“We are finding that governments are continually failing to adequately gather and make available data about corruption cases they are investigating or prosecuting. The lack of public data about crimes related to corruption is keeping all of us in the dark about whether or not our own governments are keeping their word,” said Vincent Lazatin, chairman of the UNCAC Coalition, the world’s largest coalition of civil society organisations united to fight corruption through support for the UNCAC.

Reviews by civil society organisations are undertaken at the same time as official country reviews managed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. While some countries have chosen to invite non-governmental groups to participate in some way in the official review process, governments under review are not consistently open and inclusive to the citizens of their own countries about the review process and findings.

“We fought for years to have this official review process, and we’re very pleased it is now in place. What needs to happen now is for civil society organisations to have a formal role in the official review processes. At this time, concerned citizens are often not allowed to participate in the evaluation of the enforcement their own laws – and that is not acceptable,” said Lazatin.

Since 2011, civil society organisations have reviewed 16 countries for compliance with the Convention. The reports submitted this week address Brazil, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Zambia.

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Note to Editors

The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the most comprehensive global legal framework for combating corruption. It is a binding agreement ratified by 160 countries on standards and requirements for preventing, detecting, investigating and sanctioning corruption. The adoption of an effective review mechanism at the upcoming Conference of States Parties is essential for the success of the UNCAC.

The UNCAC Coalition was formed in 2006 and is composed of more than 300 civil society organisations in more than 100 countries. Its goal is to promote ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention against Corruption.