New anti-corruption tools crucial

11 July 2017 | Crime

Experts are proposing tackling rising corruption in Namibia with an illicit enrichment law that could make it easier to crack down on fraud and bribery, especially at state institutions.

Alternatively, enforcing strict compliance with asset declarations and financial disclosure as well as conducting lifestyle audits of all public officials, including senior ones, could help stamp out corruption, a public policy watchdog recommends.

“Corruption is on the rise in Namibia, and authorities are not able to effectively halt the rising tide,” an Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) briefing paper, authored by Max Weylandt, states.

One of the issues at hand, and the basis for the need for an illicit enrichment law to help fight widespread and rising graft, is that prosecutors struggle to get convictions “for corrupt officials as criminals become increasingly sophisticated. Crimes of corruption are by their nature hard to prove in the first place, given their inherent secrecy.”

Corruption has been labelled as a “uniquely difficult crime to prove and prosecute” and these laws “make life easier for prosecutors targeting this visible manifestation in itself.”

For investigators and prosecutors, the laws allow them to “simply show that the official's wealth exceeds what they should reasonably have from their legitimate income,” rather than having to prove the underlying crime.

Illicit enrichment laws have been described as a “catch-all” for corrupt offences and if effective, “removing much of the incentive for corruption and punishing those who try their luck anyway.”

In response many countries, including Botswana and Zambia, have implemented versions of the illicit enrichment laws, a strategy that has been recommended by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption as well as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.







Not perfect

But the paper warns that due to a number of factors, including operational, ethical and more, “illicit enrichment laws are not the easy solution they may at first appear to be”.

Debates around the compatibility of illicit enrichment tools with human rights laws have not stopped many regions in the world to enact illicit enrichment provisions, with the notable exceptions of North America and most of Western Europe.

“It may be tempting, given the frustrating difficulty of getting convictions in corruption cases, to do everything to strengthen the hand of the prosecution. But the concerns around presumption of innocence, the right to silence and other aspects of the law are not trivial, and would have to be carefully considered,” Weylandt writes.

The law could be hampered by many factors, including a lack of specialised skills, lack of global cooperation and cases could get bogged down in several years of court challenges.

The IPPR advises that the enacting of such a law should “proceed with caution” and draft legislation should emphasise basic rights.



Other options already out there

If the law is not enacted, the IPPR suggests Namibia should “seriously commit to fixing and expanding its financial disclosure systems” as an alternative method of detecting possible corruption.

Information on the interest of officials' could be used as a baseline for investigators and provide leads, the paper suggests.

Moreover, asset declarations need to “be expanded to uniformly cover all senior officials. Unlike now, their mandatory nature needs to be enforced across the board, and non-compliance punished.”

Asset declarations should be audited to ensure their truthfulness and to help provide potential leads.

And, in line with a proposal made by President Hage Geingob in 2016 during an interview, the IPPR says lifestyle audits should be common practice, for all officials, including high-ranking officials.

“Privacy concerns will have to be considered, but public officials implicitly agree to subject themselves to a certain level of scrutiny when entering public service.”

Lifestyle audits are a method of detecting illicit enrichment that “determines whether the standard of living of a public official is clearly not appropriate for their level of earnings.”

Lifestyle auditors examine not just assets and spending, but also activities of public officials.

“The concept of lifestyle audits would likely make sense to many Namibians. In many towns, rumours abound around certain officials and how they can possibly afford their fancy cards, big houses and extravagant holidays,” the IPPR paper notes.

JANA-MARI SMITH

Similar News

 

Brother nabbed for fondling sister

3 hours ago | Crime

The Namibian police at Okatope in the Oshikoto Region on Sunday arrested a 27-year-old man for allegedly fondling the genitals of his biological sister.The crime...

Two men arrested for ivory

3 hours ago | Crime

Two residents of Katutura who were on Friday found in possession of two elephant tusks briefly appeared in the Magistrate's Court in Windhoek yesterday morning....

Region grapples with violence

1 day - 24 July 2017 | Crime

According to Kavango West Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Mbumba gender-based violence (GBV) is the most common crime committed in the region, where about three to four...

Struggle kids snatch fire truck

1 day - 24 July 2017 | Crime

A fire truck was briefly hijacked near Brakwater on Friday by a group of incensed 'struggle kids' who also set a broken-down minibus on fire...

Liebenberg to preside over Teko fraud trial

4 days ago - 21 July 2017 | Crime

A new judge has been appointed to preside over the trial of two Namibians and a Chinese national arrested in 2009 for alleged fraud of...

Man gets 38 years for burning lover to death

5 days ago - 20 July 2017 | Crime

A 41-year-old man who recently admitted that he murdered his girlfriend in an arson attack about five years ago has been slapped with a 38-year...

Boy, 15, caught with dagga

5 days ago - 20 July 2017 | Crime

A 15-year-old boy was arrested at the J A Nel Secondary School hostel in Keetmanshoop and charged with possession of cannabis.The Namibian police's //Karas regional...

Suspects nabbed with N$2m worth of cocaine

6 days ago - 18 July 2017 | Crime

Two adults, a 43-year-old Congolese male and an Angolan woman, 47, were arrested yesterday morning at the corner of Daan Viljoen and Otjomuise roads. According...

Grieving family kept dead relative in freezer

1 week ago - 17 July 2017 | Crime

A grieving family had the police turn up at their door last week, seeking answers after their relative's body was found in a freezer on...

Hospital murder shocks //Karas

1 week ago - 17 July 2017 | Crime

//Karas Regional Health Director Barth Mutenda expressed his distress over an alleged murder that took place at the Keetmanshoop State Hospital Wednesday morning.Speaking to Nampa,...

Latest News

Swapo to deal with Swartbooi

3 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba says the ruling party will deal with parliamentarian Bernadus Swartbooi over controversial comments he made at the weekend in...

Under-fire governor claims he was...

3 hours ago | Cultural

ILENI NANDJATOOmusati governor Erginus Endjala has apologised for private remarks in which he spoke against the Aandonga people and certain politicians.An hour-long audio recording involving...

Namibian rhino to be sculpted...

3 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

ELLANIE SMIT A life-sized rhino made from Namibian marble and sculpted by a world-renowned artist will soon be auctioned...

State to appeal Hoff conviction

3 hours ago | Justice

FRED GOEIEMAN The State is not satisfied that a woman who had conspired to kill her husband was only found...

Hardap alleviates Neckartal water woes

3 hours ago | Infrastructure

STAFF REPORTERNamWater will funnel crucial water from the Hardap Dam to the Neckartal Dam construction site in order to alleviate critical water shortages there and...

TransNamib manager out on bail

3 hours ago | Justice

CATHERINE SASMANTransNamib’s head of procurement accused of corruption, Chris Simataa, was granted bail of N$60 000 by the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday and was...

Desert Rose EIA under scrutiny

3 hours ago | Infrastructure

The developers of the Desert Rose project are keen to get the project rolling, having recently submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the N$8-billion...

Brother nabbed for fondling sister

3 hours ago | Crime

The Namibian police at Okatope in the Oshikoto Region on Sunday arrested a 27-year-old man for allegedly fondling the genitals of his biological sister.The crime...

Two men arrested for ivory

3 hours ago | Crime

Two residents of Katutura who were on Friday found in possession of two elephant tusks briefly appeared in the Magistrate's Court in Windhoek yesterday morning....

Load More