STATEMENT BY THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER AT THE INTERSESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF STATE PARTIES TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION (UNCAC) ON THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE POLITICAL DECLARATION “ OUR COMMITMENT TO EFFECTIVELY ADDRESSING CHALLENGES AND IMPLEMENTING MEASURES TO PREVENT AND COMBAT CORRUPTION AND STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION”
Thank you Mr. Chair for the opportunity you have accorded me and the Secretariat to espouse on the implementation of the UNCAC by Sierra Leone so far. I wish to express optimism that the level of achievement is encouraging and there is need for our respective countries to do more in ensuring full compliance to the recommendations of the Convention.
I would also like to emphasize the need for preventive measures because of the known fact that it is far cheaper and sustainable to prevent corruption than to prosecute or even recover stolen wealth.
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to state that Sierra Leone is among the first few countries that signed to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), on the 9th December 2003 and ratified same on October 30, 2004.
Sierra Leone has also adopted the ECOWAS Protocol and acceded to the African Union Convention against corruption.
More importantly also, tremendous efforts have been made in strengthening our legal framework. The Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 was repealed and replaced with the 2008 Act. And in 2019, the 2008 Act was amended, which introduced progressive reforms to the fight against corruption globally. In fact, the Sierra Leone anti-graft law is considered as one of the strongest anti- corruption legal instruments in the Africa sub-region.
Because of the prosecutorial powers conferred on the ACC, we have successfully prosecuted and secured significant numbers of high profile convictions and undertaken comprehensive reviews of the systems and procedures of public sector institutions that are considered as corruption hot-spots with a view to closing the inherent corruption vulnerabilities in the delivery of services. In four years, 2018 to 2022, the ACC has secured over 90% conviction rate in the criminal matters it has prosecuted in the High Court of Sierra Leone, reviewed the procedures of 14 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, proffered 461 recommendations, with a successful implementation of 336, representing 73% compliance rate.
The ACC-SL is currently implementing the fourth generation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS 2019-2023). Through the implementation, the ACC has established Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) in over 95% of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) both at national and sub-national levels, with the view to own the fight against corruption and promote integrity, transparency and accountability in the service delivery areas of the MDAs.
In the area of accountability, Sierra Leone has made and continues to make substantial progress in the fight against corruption.
Sierra Leone through the ACC continues its trajectory of recovering stolen public assets, resources and funds. In 2020, the Commission recovered over 34 Billion Old Leones which is over Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars ($USD 3M). The Commission also recovered one two-storey building (valued at 2 Billion Leones (USD $1.5M) and two Toyota Landcruiser (Prado) vehicles valued at 1.5 Billion Leones (USD $1M).
In the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index released in 2022, Sierra Leone is at 115 with a score of 34, above the Sub-Saharan average. Consistently for three years, Sierra Leone has moved upwards significantly on the TI-CPI. From 129 in 2018 to 115 in 2021, moving 15 places upwards (source: www.transparency.org).
The 2019 National Corruption Perceptions Survey Report commissioned in 2020 by the Public Financial Management (PFM) consortium, led by Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) with support from the Department For International Development (DFID) now Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), indicated that 92 percent of respondents believe that the ACC has created and continue to create the greatest impact in the country in the control of corruption, and that Government’s commitment and efforts in the fight against corruption rises to 51 percent whilst it was at 46 percent 3 years prior to the survey.
The 2020 Afro-Barometer Report released by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) in October 2020 also pointed that, the prevalence of corruption in Sierra Leone declined from an unimpressive 70 percent in 2015 to 40 percent in 2020.
Significantly too, in 2021, Sierra Leone passed the mandatory ‘control of corruption’ indicator on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) scorecard with an impressive 83 percent. This is the fourth consecutive time the country passed the control of corruption indicator-and becoming eligible to win the Compact grant; (71percent in 2018, 79 percent in 2019, 81percent in 2020 and 83percent in 2021) (source: www.mcc.gov).
Through the reforms made with the amendment in 2019, to the AC Act 2008, the ACC made huge gains in the Assets Declaration process, as the compliance rate of public officers was unprecedented and incremental.
On December 9, 2019, the Special Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court of Sierra Leone was established with dedicated Anti-Corruption Judges, with a viewing to trying anti-corruption matters expeditiously. Now, more than ever before, ACC cases are tried faster and quicker. Through the Special Anti-Corruption Division, the ACC secured a high conviction rate, whilst it also filed Appeals against certain Judgments arising from cases in the High Court.
Sustained partnership and collaboration are important values to the fight against corruption. Therefore, the ACC in 2020 continued its support to the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) in the implementation of World Bank funded projects– including; the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) of the Social Safety Net (SSN), COVID-19 Emergency Relief support to vulnerable groups, and the Sierra Leone Community Driven Development Project, otherwise called GIETRENK project. The ACC’s role into these programmes ushered in renewed credibility and trust with the mainstreaming of transparency at all levels and processes.
As a mark of Sierra Leone’s positive and strategic approach to widening the civil society space, the Government through the office of the Vice President conducts quarterly National Civil Society Dialogue in different Provinces in the country. The ACC on its part has deepened civil society collaboration and partnership, through public quarterly civil society and media engagements, joint nationwide anti-corruption advocacy campaigns and the signing of memoranda of understanding with thirteen (13) civil society organizations.
Public awareness and increased citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has been increased. Nationwide town hall meetings have been successfully held in major communities with the Head of the Commission being the Team-Lead-all with the view to educate the public on the damaging effects of corruption, the benefits of its elimination and enlist their unwavering support.
In its effort to engage young people and enlist them in the anti-graft crusade, the ACC has deliberately targeted educational institutions with the establishment of Integrity Clubs (Int.Cs) in Basic and Senior Secondary levels and Accountability Now Club (ANCs) in tertiary institutions. Members of these clubs are encouraged to serve as peer educators, embark on anti-corruption advocacy campaigns and report any suspected incidences of corruption within and without the educational facility.
The Sustainable Development Goals-2030, have been aligned with the Government’s priorities as contained in the Country’s Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019-2023.
Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, let me register Sierra Leone’s continued and unshakable commitment and resolve to implementing measures that will prevent, control and reduce corruption to the barest minimum in the country, the sub-region and the African continent.
©️ Public Relations Unit, ACC