• header_en
  • header_bn

 

Corruption increases poverty and injustice. Let's fight it together...now

 

Anti-corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill Unconstitutional, discriminatory, self-defeating

Iftekharuzzaman

NO words can be sufficiently critical of the amended Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) Bill 2013. To say the least, the substance and process of the move is unconstitutional, discriminatory, deceitful, self-defeating and deeply disappointing.

Passed in the Parliament on November 10, the amendment, inter alia, makes it mandatory for the ACC to secure prior government permission before filing any case against public officials including judges, magistrates or public servants for alleged corruption. Section 197 of the 115 years old Code of Criminal Procedure under which courts cannot take into cognisance allegations against such individuals without proof of prior government approval will now be applicable to corruption cases.

The provision is unconstitutional. Our Constitution makes equality of all individuals binding before the eyes of law irrespective of professional or any other marker of identity. It is needless to stress how impossible it will be to secure a prior approval unless biased by partisan political consideration. It is clearly discriminatory as for all practical purposes it guarantees a special privilege to the mentioned category of individuals.

No one can suggest that all public officials can be alleged of corruption. Nor do we ignore that there may be instances of ‘act in good faith’ or that, as a distinguished minister argued, officials are often forced to act as dictated from above. But then why claims of innocence should not be left to be proved in courts rather than by the executive? Nothing can justify exemption from the due process as applicable to others — common citizens, businesspeople and other professionals, public representatives including MPs, even leader of the opposition and head of the government.

The government has demonstrated just before the end of its tenure it wanted to leave no stone unturned to under-perform against its own commitment. It needs no special effort to realise how deeply frustrating it is for the people whose vote was garnered in 2008 election with anti-corruption as one of the five top priority election pledges and a specific commitment to strengthen the Commission.

No sensible voter expects any government to deliver all commitments they make to entice votes. After all, politics is an art of making lofty pledges. But here the core agenda has been ridiculed, and that too in a deceitful manner, which may have been pushed through by those who not only benefit from corruption but also capture the policy structure. It is bound to be counterproductive sooner or later. Those who have cooked up this move can be anything but well-wishers of the outgoing government.

The provision, along with a number of other amendments, was approved by the cabinet on April 26, 2010. When it got into public domain, media, civil society and other stakeholders opposed it on the ground that it would take away whatever power the Commission had. A public opinion survey conducted soon after the cabinet decision showed that 97% of the people wanted an effective ACC. People rallied to oppose it, conducted signature campaign, online petition, text message appeals, etc. Media joined in with editorials and commentaries. Enriched by threadbare analysis of the proposed amendments, a series of policy proposals were submitted to the speaker, prime minister, leader of the opposition, MPs, relevant ministers and senior government officials. The prime minister formed a Cabinet Committee to review the proposals. A delegation of relevant MPs and officials was sent, spending donor money, to a few Asia-pacific countries in an effort to generate an informed stance.

All these led to a reported a change of mind, resulting in some ministers and Standing Committee members pronouncing that the special privilege was unacceptable. Hopes were rekindled that the government may not yield to the evil design. The bill was kept pending since then, as it has now emerged, only to deceitfully re-insert the provision. There has been no consultation or communication with the stakeholders who were once heard. The matter was kept secret until it got passed without any discussion by the power of “voice vote,” totally disregarding public opinion and interest.

To be fair, a few welcome provisions have been made in the amended version of the law — mandatory disclosure of corruption related information by such bodies as NBR, law enforcement agencies, CAG and Bangladesh Bank upon ACC’s request; retaining the appointment of the secretary in ACC’s jurisdiction; confidentiality of information provider; etc. These are but peanuts compared to the big one, which by all indications will render the ACC into an oft-quoted toothless and clawless fat cat.

Those few in ACC who could have the courage and skill to initiate effective action will be deterred, not only by this but also for another provision that lodging a so-called ill-motivated case will warrant 2-5 years imprisonment. On the other hand, those who would be reluctant to be proactive for lack of capacity and/or partisan or other consideration will find the provision a handy pretext for inaction.

It will be no less embarrassing for the government in the eyes of international stakeholders. As widely expected, negative response has already come from some such quarters which may be considered by many to be outside their mandate, rightly or wrongly. Be that as it may, consider also the fact that Bangladesh as a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption is going to have a hard time defending the move in the Conferences of States Parties to be held in Panama City in couple of weeks and way beyond it. No mincing of words is going to help.

So, what next? With all naivety we call upon the prime minister to show the courage to reconsider the matter as she did in 2011, and take the lead to amend the bill again to scrap this highly self-defeating provision. However wishful it may sound, we may also expect the president to decline to consent. More realistically, what we need is to continue to strengthen the public voice and demand engaging the media and people at large. We may be encouraged by the support of “champions” in government and politics, who may also feel frustrated today but cannot give up. It is a relentless struggle for those who want change.

Note that this is not the first move to render ACC ineffective. The four-party alliance government, by a disgraceful move in 2004, appointed the commission leadership under partisan consideration, who indulged for nearly three years in nothing but mutual bickering that laid the foundation of an ACC that now carries the baggage of the former Bureau of Anti-corruption. This also explains why the opposition is least bothered by what happens to ACC.

It remains an uphill journey through slippery slopes — a few inches forward, few backward. One can only bring the horse to water, but can hardly force it to drink unless it feels thirsty enough.

The writer is Executive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).

 

This article has been published in  on November 14, 2013

Link

26/09/2018
international-right-to-know-day-2018-observed-amid-concern-on-digital-security-act-call-for-review-controversial-sections Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) observed the International Right to Know Day, 2018 with a call upon the government to review the hastily passed Digital Security Act ignoring widespread protests and concerns from journalists, media, rights activists, civil society and different national and international quarters. Observing the legislation contradictory to the true spirit of Right to.(...)
18/09/2018
dhaka-integrity-dialogue-3-call-for-equity-and-transparency-in-green-climate-fundingNational and international experts stressed on need to ensure transparency and equity in securing green climate funds (GCF) which may be possible through the implementation of policies that are parallel to global standards. The speakers reiterated the necessity of monitoring the implementation of projects at the root-level, along with ensuring participation from the community, experts with members of.(...)
17/09/2018
election-manifestos-review-wide-gap-between-actions-and-words-found-call-for-promises-with-timely-action-plan-highlighting-good-governance-and-integrityPolitical parties of Bangladesh have failed markedly in fulfilling their pledges made in the election manifestos especially with regards to strengthening good governance and integrity. In all of the elections held since independence, though some governance related significant commitments were addressed and accomplished, a huge gap was identified between achievements and promises made in manifestos..(...)
30/08/2018
corruption-in-service-sectors-national-household-survey-2017-66-5-households-face-corruption-estimated-amount-of-bribe-paid-bdt-1-06-889-million National Household survey 2017 on corruption in service sectors by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) reveals that 66.5% households became victims of corruption while receiving services from different public and private sectors or institutions. However, the extent of bribery paid by households (on an average of Tk. 5,930 for services) has decreased in 2017 compared to 2015 (49.8% in 2017.(...)
16/08/2018
anti-corruption-youth-camp-2018-transparency-and-accountability-towards-achieving-sustainable-development-goalsTo streamline the roles of Youth with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and synchronize the new knowledge in the fight against corruption, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) organized three two-day long anti-corruption Youth Camps in July and August 2018. Highlighting the theme Transparency and accountability towards achieving Sustainable development goals: Invincible Youth will resist.(...)
02/08/2018
notable-progress-in-governance-by-foreign-funded-ngos-tib-stressed-on-effective-implementation Foreign-funded Non-Government Organizations of Bangladesh have gained noteworthy success in improving the overall governance situation compared to that reflected in 2007, however there remains a considerable scope for the advancement in strengthening good governance. The remarkable development was identified in a Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) research study which assessed existing.(...)
17/05/2018
lack-of-expected-role-of-parliament-in-promoting-democratic-accountability-observed-in-parliament-watch Although attendance of MPs in the Parliament and average time spent for each session increased in the 14th to 18th session of the 10th parliament, there remain many challenges to make the Parliament more effective. Quorum crises still remains same as previous year and total amount of time spent in enactment of law remains still very low (9% of total time). Besides, the continuous trend of using.(...)
13/05/2018
international-debate-on-climate-finance-and-governance-engaging-the-youth-for-transparency-accountability-and-integrityFocusing on effective climate finance and good governance of climate funds, young debaters stressed on democratizing the governance and administration of climate finance. Core governance principals included transparency, accountability and integrity at various levels ranging from policies and practices with regard to disbursement of committed funds, challenges in the process of disbursement and.(...)
06/05/2018
graft-liability-of-male-relatives-conscious-and-empowered-women-must-to-safeguard-family To awaken women regarding liability of illegal earnings and assets acquired especially by male relatives through corruption and accept deposit in their names either willfully or unknowingly, it is important to grow consciousness among women about the legal obligations and the definite punishment of such criminal acts. Such awareness raising programmes should highlight the potential risks of the.(...)
26/04/2018
tib-backs-single-authority-for-centralized-role-at-rmgConcerted efforts by relevant stakeholders followed by tragic Rana Plaza collapse have gained considerable amount of progress in establishing good governance at the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. However, significant shortcomings still prevail in the major foreign currency earning sector and a lot of reform initiatives taken since the deadliest incident are yet to be implemented, a fact-finding.(...)
21/03/2018
water-integrity-important-for-effective-climate-adaptationTo cope with dire impact of climate change especially towards the water sector, promotion of integrity in the water management can play crucial role in climate adaption. In parallel with various initiatives by government and other organisations to counter climate change effects in Bangladesh, awareness campaigns and advocacy initiatives highlighting water integrity practices and linkages with SDGs.(...)
04/03/2018
call-for-mainstreaming-gender-in-anti-corruption-activities-for-sustainable-developmentYouth debaters stressed on reducing corruption to attain SDG 5 through women empowerment, inclusion of women in decision-making process and mainstreaming gender in anti-corruption activities. The unanimous call was made in the final round of two-day national inter-university debate competition held on 4 March 2018. Organised by TIB at its Dhaka office to generate awareness on role of women,.(...)
01/03/2018
women-s-role-in-establishing-sustainable-good-governanceGender inequality spreads corruption and women are more likely to become victims of corruption then men. A Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) study in 2015 found that women are being forced to accept corruption as a way of life, and at the same time they are becoming victims, agents and in some cases beneficiaries of corruption. To ensure women’s adequate representation at all stages of.(...)
26/02/2018
thousands-of-volunteers-renew-plight-to-resist-corruption-with-awakened-conscience-nine-point-recommendations-placed-to-build-corruption-free-bangladeshThousands of anti-corruption volunteers under TIB-inspired activists’ groups - the Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCC), Swajan, Youth Engagement and Support (YES) and YES Friends, Young professionals against Corruption (YPAC) flocked to Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) on 26 February 2018 to attend the 9th National Convention and renewed their pledges to effectively battle.(...)
22/02/2018
bangladesh-s-score-slightly-improves-on-corruption-perception-index-2017-tib-calls-on-government-to-be-more-stringent-against-corruptionBangladesh has scored 28 on a scale of 0-100 according to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2017 released by Transparency International (TI) on February 21 2018. Bangladesh's score in 2017 is two point higher than in 2016. In a list of 180 countries, Bangladesh is ranked 17th from below, which is two steps higher than in 2016. Bangladesh remains well below the global average of 43 which indicates.(...)
06/02/2018
yes-members-meet-shadow-ambassador-of-the-danish-embassySelected YES members from TIB-inspired YES groups of Dhaka shared their experiences from the anti-corruption movement with the `Shadow Ambassador of the day 2018’ of the Danish Embassy to Dhaka. During the meet up at TIB head office on 6 February 2018, YES members also engaged in discussion with Mr. Mikael Hemniti Winther, Ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh. TIB Executive Director Dr..(...)
28/12/2017
effective-investigation-by-investigators-is-must-for-controlling-corruptionTo prevent wide-spread corruption, effective investigation plays the larger role in deterring corruption and thus, investigators are needed to be sufficiently efficient and skilled with updating knowledge. To keep pace with global advancement,  30 investigators of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh gathered at Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) head office on 28 December 2017.(...)
09/12/2017
iacd-celebration-2017-call-for-creating-enabling-environment-to-strengthen-the-anti-corruption-movement-in-bangladesh9 December marks the International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD). To celebrate IACD 2017, Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) organized a number of people and youth engagement activities promoting the message: Together against corruption. TIB called upon the Government to create enabling environment for the anti-corruption fighters, so that anti-corruption fighters and researchers can.(...)
05/12/2017
hundreds-of-youths-commit-to-discharge-their-responsibilities-with-integrity-and-accountability Part of Youth seen taking oath For many youngsters it was a memorable day, because they hate corruption but didn’t know how to fight it. By participating in an anti-corruption oath-taking ceremony today, hundreds of youngsters pledged that they will refrain from all kinds of corruption. On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) 2017 which will be celebrated globally on 9th.(...)
19/11/2017
serious-challenges-plague-nctb-tib-places-16-recommendations-to-improve-the-governance-situationA TIB study titled ‘National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB): Challenges of Good Governance and a Way-out in its Manuscript Formulation and Publication Management’ revealed that NCTB officials are not only involved in irregularities in publishing and distributing free textbooks, they also arbitrarily changed some of the textbook contents in primary and secondary levels due to political and.(...)
05/11/2017
tib-calls-for-institutionalising-public-hearing-in-preventing-corruption-including-constant-follow-up-for-augmented-productivityPublic hearing was found as an effective tool in ensuring transparency and accountability in the public offices and importantly, it creates influential impact on people’s empowerment and create a space to resolve complaints and grievances. Though a significant number of complainers were not provided with answers yet on their complaints, number of resolutions on raised complaints were found.(...)
01/11/2017
conditions-of-rohingyas-at-high-risks-tib-urged-to-create-favourable-environment-for-repatriation-through-mounting-pressure-and-diplomatic-initiativesForcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals to Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are under grave risk related to food, clean water, clothing, shelter, sanitation and health. Despite diverse efforts of government and private sector with support from national and global level, the afflicted, oppressed and the victims of unprecedented atrocity by the state of Myanmar are being exploited in different ways by a coterie.(...)
11/10/2017
tib-signs-mou-with-information-commission-for-effective-implementation-of-rti-act-2009 Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Information Commission will work jointly to increase people’s awareness and boost stakeholders’ capacity to ensure effective implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 11 October 2017 at Information Commission office at Agargaon in Dhaka. The areas of mutual.(...)
28/09/2017
international-right-to-know-day-observed-2017Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) celebrated International Right to Know Day 2017 with great enthusiasm. Besides holding human chain and debate competition, TIB joined hands with the Information Commission in holding different awareness campaign including rally, discussion, information fair in the capital to aware the people of their rights to get information at ease. In 45 locations of the.(...)
19/09/2017
call-for-concerted-efforts-to-ensure-transparency-and-accountability-in-climate-funds-in-south-asia Nationl and international experts here stressed on urgent concerted efforts of South Asian governments to ensure transparency, accountability and integrity in utilising the fund for the climate victims. ‘As the South Asian countries have prioritised adaptation over mitigation, the governments in this region must mainstream adaptation into their regular developmental portfolio by ensuring.(...)

Media Releases

Highlights

Articles/Op-eds

Publications

climate-adaptation-finance-governance-standards-a-new-approach-piloted-in-the-maldives-and-bangladesh Climate finance – money intended to help at-risk countries prevent climate change and adapt to its effects – can...
infographics-on-national-household-survey-2017Infographics on National Household Survey 2017 (Bangla) Click Here  
infographics-on-national-household-survey-2018Infographics on National Household Survey 2017 (English) Click Here  
2018-08-08-09-17-49দুর্নীতির বিরুদ্ধে একটি কার্যকর ও টেকসই সামাজিক আন্দোলন গড়ে তুলতে ট্রান্সপারেন্সি ইন্টারন্যাশনাল বাংলাদেশ (টিআইবি) ১৯৯৬ সাল থেকে কাজ করছে।...
governance-challenges-in-bangladesh-the-way-forward-volume-8Transparency International Bangladesh (TlB) has been working to create a social movement against corruption and to promote good governance...
2018-02-25-06-58-05ট্রান্সপারেন্সি ইন্টারন্যাশনাল বাংলাদেশ (টিআইবি) দেশব্যাপী দুর্নীতিবিরোধী চাহিদা ও সুশাসন প্রতিষ্ঠার সহায়ক পরিবেশ সৃষ্টির লক্ষ্যে নাগরিকদের সচেতন ও সোচ্চার করার...
strengthening-anti-corruption-agencies-in-asia-pacific Strengthening Anti-Corruption Agencies in Asia Pacific  
good-governance-in-bangladesh-challenges-and-way-forward-volume-7-bangla  Good Governance  in Bangladesh: Challenges and Way Forward, Volume-7
undress-corruption-bookletHow to Prevent Corruption in The Readymade Garment Sector: Scenarios from Bangladesh.   Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has been working with...
aca-study-bookletAnti-Corruption Agency Strengthening Initiative Assessment Of The Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission 2016.    Transparency  International  Bangladesh  (TIB)  has  been  working  with  the ...