FIGHTING CORRUPTION: THE ROLE OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION
A well-financed and independent anti-corruption agency or commission can be a strong weapon
in the fight against corruption. They need support, however, from both the government, judiciary and law enforcement if they are to do their jobs.
Above all they need independence: they need to establish their credentials as independent investigators
dedicated to fighting corruption both inside and outside government.
The first anti-corruption commission was set up in Singapore in 1952, followed by Malaysia and Hong Kong, giving Asia the reputation as the “cradle” of anti-corruption
agencies (ACAs). Today there are nearly 150 such entities throughout the world.
ACAs often emerge in a context of corruption scandals. They are formed through broad political consensus and are regarded by most stakeholders as the ultimate response
to corruption. However, they can find themselves at the centre of political controversy if they decide to investigate those in power.
Set of standards and principles on what makes a good anti-corruption commission or agency includes:
- A broad and clear mandate: ACAs should have a clear mandate to tackle corruption through prevention, education, awareness raising, investigation and prosecution.
- Legally guaranteed permanence: Anti-corruption commissions
ought to be established by a proper and stable legal framework, such as a constitution or a special law, to ensure the permanence of the institution.
- Neutral appointment of ACA heads: Heads of anti-corruption commissions should be appointed
through a process that ensures their independence, impartiality, neutrality, integrity, apolitical stance and competence.
- Removal of ACA heads and leadership continuity: It is essential for the independence of anti-corruption commissions
that their heads have security of tenure and can only be dismissed through a procedure established by law.
- Ethical conduct and governance: ACAs ought to adopt codes of conduct that set high standards of ethical conduct for their employees
and have a solid compliance regime.
Transparency International supports the creation of ACAs to help in the fight against corruption, and calls on governments to support and protect these institutions to fulfil their mandates by ensuring that
they are given the independence and resources to do their jobs effectively.
During political crises it is important that no side tries to hijack the agenda of the anti-corruption commission and that the work is allowed to continue free from threats
(Primary source of the text: Transparency International).