Monday, September 6, 2010
Denpasar, 26 January 2008—From 24 to 26 January 2008, the Partnership for Governance Reform, in cooperation with TI Indonesia, ICW, and the Coalition for Judicial Monitoring (KPP) held a public forum called “Combating corruption in transitional democracies”. This event was organized in response to the UNCAC conference of state parties being held from 28 January to 1 February 2008.
The Anti Corruption public forum aimed to address the unique problems facing countries undergoing a political transition towards democracy, including Indonesia, Nigeria, Peru, Thailand, South Africa and many of the newer countries in Eastern Europe. They experience unique and complex socio-political challenges in their efforts to combat corruption.
Because of these challenges, the Anti-Corruption Public Forum recommended that more contextual anti corruption strategies are needed – approaches which address the particular socio-political dynamics of countries undergoing a political transition.
1. All stakeholders should understand that the democratic transition is a political process that is full of constraints, especially where the prior corrupt and authoritarian regime retains control of state institutions. In these countries, civil society often remains weak, making power relations between the state and civil society lopsided and creating an environment where abuse of power can flourish.
2. In the context of Indonesia, the public forum believes that the pre-reformasi socio-political powers maintain control – and they have a direct interest in sustaining corrupt governance, at both central and regional level. Therefore, despite ten years of governance reform, progress remains disappointing. Judicial corruption is still common practice, and state commissions, born post 1998, are being stripped of their power by the very political powers who claim to be reformers. Similar incidents also occur at regional level – the shift of authority from central government to the regions has been more broadly dispersed abuse of power practices.
3. Because of this, we need to develop more contextual criteria for these countries to comply with the obligations stipulated by the UNCAC. This is important if we want to make compliance to the convention more than just a technical and procedural effort. Maintaining and promoting the development of democratic political systems in countries that are undergoing political transition is equally important to realizing clean and accountable governance. We believe that democratic political systems provide more opportunities to eradicate corruption effectively.
4. Issues which are going to be discussed in the UNCAC conference of state parties, such as Asset Recovery also need to be understood in their contextual setting. For the public and government in countries in democratic transition, recovering assets from corruption cases involving past government officials is very political. In the case of Indonesia for instance, efforts to recover assets belonging to Soeharto depends on more than legal and procedural issues, but political factors as well.
5. Law enforcement agencies, such as the police, prosecutors office, courts – even the Anti Corruption Commission (KPK) – suffer a lack of internal and external oversight and commitment (especially judicial corruption and political corruption). The leadership of law enforcement agencies and institutions is still seen as compromised, especially when the selection process is influenced by political interests.
The following recommendations are submitted to the governments from state parties to UNCAC.
1. We invite CSOs in various countries to consolidate into a political force with the capacity to control the performance of their respective governments and start to develop global cooperation in corruption eradication.
2. The eradication of the judicial mafia cannot be achieved by law enforcement agencies alone, but the public should be able to report judicial mafia practices to institutions which have the authority to tackle this behaviour.
3. Countries in political transition need to seriously develop political recruitment systems that select competent government officials of high integrity. Government, CSOs and politicians with integrity need to push for the enactment of laws which ensure the transparency and accountability of political parties.
4. The private sector should develop and promote codes of ethics and anti corrupt behavior. Private sector associations can ensure their members comply with their codes of ethics. Corrupt activity by the private sector should be categorized as criminal under national laws. CSOs, whether in the national or international context, should strengthen networks to monitor the behaviour of the private sector.
5. In countries where the level of corruption is high, women are more vulnerable, economically, politically, socially and culturally. State Parties to UNCAC need to take effective steps to provide access and opportunities for women to participate in corruption eradication and monitor its implementation. Women’s groups need to strengthen their political networks and enhance their capacity to control the direction of the government/administration.
6. Countries in democratic transition need to have effective control of military institutions, particularly weapons procurement. Weapons procurement should be controlled by non-military agencies, from the planning process through to procurement, management and usage. The government and the parliament should have the commitment and courage to conduct due oversight. International cooperation, is needed to ensure prevention and investigation of corrupt practices in weapons procurement.
7. Donor institutions which support corruption eradication at the national level are called upon to review the effectiveness of their aid. It is time to evaluate whether enough has been achieved – given the levels of support. There is a need to consider increasing direct support to the community – both as the main victims of corruption and to enhance their capacity to control how governments administrate/manage the country. An empowered community is both the best way to prevent corruption and the best way to ensure effective investigation of and action on corruption cases.
Denpasar, 26 January 2008
Partnership for Governance Reform
Transparency International, Indonesia
Indonesian Corruption Watch
NGO Coalition for Judicial Oversight
Anti Corruption Advisor, the Partnership