Seychelles marks the World Anti-Corruption Day with historical breakthrough
The Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius and Seychelles, H.E. Vincent Degert. (European Union)
(Seychelles News Agency) - This year Seychelles marks the World Anti-Corruption Day with historical breakthrough as prosecution of persons suspected of corruption practices unfolds.
As the corruption cases investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) are brought to light during the past weeks, this has revealed large alleged corruption practices. A first in Seychelles history and a major leap forward in the consolidation of good governance practices and in the respect of the rule of law. This is also an indication of the growing maturity of Seychelles key institutions such as ACCS and sends a strong signal of their independence. For the EU, which has been supporting the ACCS since 2019 with a grant of Rs 6.7 m in building its investigative capacities, this is a major achievement by Seychelles and a historical turning point in its fight against corruption.
The Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius and Seychelles, H.E. Mr Vincent Degert, said:
"The EU is extremely pleased with the recent advancement of investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Commission – even more so as the EU has been providing technical assistance to the ACCS to boost its investigative capacities. Indeed, 4 senior European investigators have been working with ACCS during the past 2 years and we are today seeing the fruits of the arduous work carried out. The EU wishes to commend Seychelles 'authorities on the priority given not only to fight against corruption but to good governance in general. As we are finalising the programming exercise for the period 2021 – 2027 of our cooperation programme, I am pleased to point out that good governance will remain one of the key priorities for the EU in Seychelles, meaning that we will continue working together to consolidate the work already engaged on fight against corruption over the next 7 years.’
According to the Ms May de Silva, Commissioner of ACCS:
"2021 is a landmark year for global anti-corruption action. It has also been an important year for ACCS. Our legal framework has been strengthened and as an independent institution, with progress in our investigative capacity, prosecution of persons suspected of corruptive practices has begun.
Our focus this year has been through advancing prevention through education, running 17 intensive awareness sessions for personnel in four key institutions and ministries. We will be continuing this programme, much delayed because of COVID, in 2022 along with risk assessments for key areas with the aim of developing and putting in place policies, systems and measures for people to be able to speak up and say no to corruption.
However, governments cannot fight corruption on their own and here in Seychelles it is no different. We all need to unite and face this problem with shared responsibility. Every single person – young and old – has a role to play to prevent and counter corruption, in order to promote resilience and integrity at all levels of society. To protect your rights, you need to be aware of the role you play and responsibilities you have in the fight against corruption. Speak up, “say no to corruption".
Our partners in civil society, primarily Transparency Initiatives Seychelles, have provided invaluable support to sensitise the general population and our youth on corruption and the roles they can play in identifying, reporting and refusing to engage in corruptive practices. I wish to thank the EU, through Ambassador Mr Vincent Degert, who continues to play an invaluable role in supporting us in our ongoing battle against corruption by providing critical financial assistance in strengthening our investigative capacities and also our legal capabilities for prosecution.”
Corruption is defined as the abuse of power for private gain. It weakens and even destroys democracy, affects economic development and compromises social justice and the rule of law. This is why it should be aggressively combatted.
Corruption unfortunately happens everywhere, including in the EU. Since 2011, the European Commission is therefore implementing its Communication on "Fighting Corruption in the EU". This Communication is the basis for EU support to anti-corruption policies in order to strengthen good governance and democratisation as part of its development policy. A series of laws have also been passed in this regard in areas such as anti-money laundering and public procurement.
The fight against corruption does not concern only repression and its deterrent effect. It is equally important to prevent it from happening. The most successful fight against corruption is the capacity to avoid or dissuade it before it happens. This is the reason why the EU is, in parallel, supporting another project of SCR4.5 million with Transparency Initiative Seychelles. The project's aim is to raise awareness and establish procedures to prevent corruption. This is essential because people may not be fully aware of what corruption entails. Activities, which started in 2017, include awareness campaigns, which were undertaken - jointly with ACCS - in all primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Seychelles.
In June this year, the global community gathered for the first-ever General Assembly special session (UNGASS) against corruption, adopting a political declaration as a roadmap to step up anti-corruption action and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) – the only global ad truly comprehensive legally binding instrument against this crime. The UNCAC emphasizes the responsibility of governments to put in place effective whistle-blower protection to ensure that persons who speak up are protected from retaliation. These measures contribute to effective, accountable and transparent institutions towards a culture of integrity and fairness.