The start of a new anti-corruption era in Egypt
Cairo/Berlin, 19 April 2011
Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, hosted a two-day workshop in Cairo to debate the reforms necessary to make Egyptian institutions more resilient to corruption and more accountable to the public.
Entitled “Towards a new integrity system in Egypt”, the workshop brought together more than 75 members of government, media, academics, judiciary and civil society to agree on the first steps to making Egyptian institutions strong and independent so that they can enforce anti-corruption laws and uphold freedom of expression.
These discussions can act as a starting point for a new anti-corruption framework, with measures that ensure all actors in the Egyptian state – including leaders, public officials and security forces - act with integrity.
“In this meeting people inside and outside worked together driven by a common determination to create a truly effective and comprehensive anti-corruption system. There is a very clear mood that we cannot allow rules and institutions to be side-stepped by those in power,” said Omnia Hussein, In-Country Programme Coordinator for Transparency International in Egypt. “Egypt must have a state-of-the-art system of checks and balances so that there are no longer exceptions to anti-corruption rules.”
Among the measures called for to improve accountability and transparency are:
- Political reforms: free and fair elections; no president to hold more than two four-year terms.
- Removal of laws that restrict freedom of expression and association of civil society groups and journalists, who must be allowed to criticise authority without fear of reprisal.
- The law on whistle-blowing must be revised to protect citizens and public servants who report corruption.
- Ensure a strong and completely independent judiciary free from political interference. Heads of oversight bodies must have limited terms.
- The creation of the role of ombudsman to investigate citizens’ complaints.
Learning from the past
“Egypt is still suffering from corruption. The fall of one leader will not cure the weakness of institutions that until now have not been able to consistently enforce anti-corruption rules,” said Omnia Hussein. “This is where civil society can make a difference if given space to operate freely, in a way that was not allowed to be in the past. The fact that members of government and judiciary are openly discussing the future transparency of state institutions is a good start for the new Egypt.”
Last year, Transparency International published an analysis of Egyptian state institutions and their contribution to accountability and integrity. It found that even where mechanisms for transparency and accountability did exist, they were undermined by lack of independence and political will to fight corruption. It also highlighted lack of space for civil society and protection for whistleblowers.
Egypt scores 3.1 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a scale which goes from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, with chapters in 94 countries around the world, including Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine.