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No tolerance for corruption, Seychelles’ anti-graft body says at first meeting

Victoria, Seychelles | September 30, 2016, Friday @ 15:22 in National » GENERAL | By: Patsy Athanase and Sharon Uranie | Views: 3803
No tolerance for corruption, Seychelles’ anti-graft body says at first meeting

File Photo: Roll of money. The Seychelles' Anti-Corruption Act 2016 defines corruption as the act of soliciting, accepting, obtaining, giving, promising or offering of a gratification by way of a bribe or inducement, or the misuse or abuse of a public office for advantage or benefit for oneself or for another person. (Steven Depolo/Flickr) Photo License: (CC BY 2.0)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The people of Seychelles are needed to help the newly formed Anti-Corruption Commission tackle graft in the island nation, the group's chairman said Friday.

The five-member commission, chaired by Ugandan Judge Duncan Gaswaga, met for the first time on Thursday.

“The time is up for those involved in corrupt practices,” said Gaswaga, adding that “the commission is going to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible for any person to live on or enjoy the proceeds of corruption or ill-gotten wealth.”

President James Michel announced the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Commission in his State of the Nation address in February, saying it would help strengthen the government’s action against graft. The National Assembly in March followed that with the enacting of the Anti-Corruption Law 2016.

The Anti-Corruption Act 2016 defines corruption as the act of soliciting, accepting, obtaining, giving, promising or offering of a gratification by way of a bribe or inducement, or the misuse or abuse of a public office for advantage or benefit for oneself or for another person.  

Gaswaga said corruption threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice, destabilizes the society and endangers the rule of law.

“It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy,” he said.

The Anti-Corruption Commission which Gaswaga has described as a “self-governing, neutral and independent commission under nobody’s control, authority or direction,” is expected to have its own structure; budget and taskforce.

The five members of the Seychelles Anti-Corruption Commission during their first meeting on Thursday. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Gaswaga said that the commission is now in the phase of finding a suitable person to recommend to the president for appointment as the chief executive. He said this exercise will be transparent and fair and that applications for this and other jobs will be advertised in the coming days and that applications "will be received and considered on merit.”

Speaking to SNA on Friday, Gaswaga said the commission's immediate task will be to develop strategies to tackle the scourge of corruption. He did not say when the commission would start receiving complaints. He called on the public to cooperate with the commission's goals.

"As we are mandated to detect and investigate any such activities, you, members of the public shall act as our eyes and ears on the ground and we expect that as good, responsible and concerned citizens of this country you will make a report to the commission or police of any corrupt practices,” said Gaswaga.

“In the same vein, I should be quick to say that the identity of whistle blowers or persons who report such crimes will not be disclosed to anyone.”

According to Gaswaga, the anti-corruption commission would receive complaints from any person or entity, investigate, detect and prevent practices linked to corruption in both the public and private sector.

He added it will also carry out an awareness campaign to educate and sensitize the public on the negative effects of corruption.

Other than Judge Gaswaga, the commission has four other members: lawyer Daniel Belle is the vice-chairperson; businessman Hardy Lucas; lawyer Priscille Chetty; and Marie-Claire Elizabeth, a retiree with a long career in journalism.

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Tags: Anti-Corruption Commission, Ugandan Judge Duncan Gaswaga, President James Michel, State of the Nation Address

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