Commonwealth Secretary General Dame Patricia Scotland. (FP)
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Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has outlined a framework to help member countries investigate and prosecute corruption offences, which cost the global economy around $2 trillion a year.
The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks framework is currently being developed by the Secretariat in consultation with member countries. It would provide clear steps to promote integrity and combat graft within public and private sectors.
The Secretary-General was speaking at the fifth annual regional meeting of the Caribbean heads of anti-corruption agencies. The meeting is being hosted in the Cayman Islands from June 3-7.
“This package consists of a set of 22 benchmarks, covering topics from sanctions for corruption offences to investigating and prosecuting authorities, and from political lobbying to the disclosure of asset ownership,” she said.
“Each benchmark is defined by a principle and contains detailed guidance for meeting the set level of achievement. The principles and guidance are consistent with international standards, and if adopted, would go further in covering other areas of concern not previously addressed.”
This is the first such framework to cover all areas of the public and private conduct. It is expected to be considered by the Commonwealth Heads of Governments in Rwanda next year.
At present, five Commonwealth Caribbean countries – The Bahamas, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St Lucia – rank among the 50 least corrupt countries in the world, while none sit among the top 20 most corrupt.
Patricia Scotland said: “The Commonwealth’s leadership and cooperation contribute to this [achievement], which brings member countries together, recognising that we are all at our strongest when we combine our efforts.
“The Commonwealth has been active in providing technical assistance and development support for national anti-corruption agencies to build their effectiveness in dealing with graft.”
However, the Secretary-General stressed that the work of anti-corruption agencies must continue with renewed vigour in order to fully achieve the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In this context, the Secretary-General also referred to the Commonwealth’s practical toolkit designed to help countries plan, track and coordinate SDGs implementation more effectively.
The meeting brings together the Caribbean’s most senior officials tasked with thwarting illicit financial flows. This year’s focus is based around the theme: ‘Transforming words into action: revitalising the fight against corruption’. Panel discussions will cover areas such as corruption in sports, modernising legislative frameworks, the investigative battle against corruption and new technologies to combat graft. (PR)