Home | News    Monday 2 July 2012

South Sudan anti-graft body wants power to prosecute corrupt officials

July 1, 2012 (ABYEI) - South Sudan’s Anti Corruption Commission on Sunday said it is seeking public support to fight against all forms of malpractice, and explaining that it intends to catch all the suspects regardless of their political or social status.

No official has ever been prosecuted for corruption in South Sudan since it gained self-rule in 2005. The South Sudan Anti Corruption Commission (SSACC) does not have the power the prosecute, as the power lies with the ministry of justice.

To boost the SSACC a judge was appointed to head commission in a bid to strengthen its status.

Justice John Getwech Lul, the chairperson of the the country’s anti-corruption commission, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that they have different methods to catch different officials.

“We have hooks of different types. We have hooks for big and small fishes. We have proportional hooks".

He said his commission has drafted number of laws he expected the council of ministers and South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly to approve them so the commission is able to prosecute criminals as provided in the transitional constitution of South Sudan.

One of the laws, he further explained, is a bill that seeking to prohibit and prescribe punishment for corruption and other related offences, giving the Anti-Corruption Commission the responsibility to investigation and prosecution of offenders.

The Bill also provides that any offence committed by foreigners in South Sudan would be punished as if it were committed by an ordinary citizen. The proposed law also provides protection for whistle blowers.

"We need information from members of the public. All we need is evidence. Just give us evidence and we will protect you because the law provides that", Justice Lul explained.

He said the fight against corruption depends entirely on evidence based-information not hearsay.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir wrote to 75 current and former top officials in May asking them to return the $4 billion that has gone missing since 2005.

The Judge, who was appointed by Kiir in November 2011 to replace Pauline Riak who led the SSACC since 2006, said that the ability to prosecute would "put in place a necessary institutional framework to spearhead the fight against corruption".

The top anti-graft official explained that the Bill envisages that the commission will be the institution vested with both the permanent power to investigate and prosecute alleged offenders without fear or favour.

As part of the proposed Bill the Commission’s officials, including the chairman, will serve a maximum of two-terms in office. He said the Bill when passed into law will greatly help in the fight against corruption.

The Judge opined that it will help in the progress and sustaining of development, adding that it should not only be seen as a Bill that will fight corruption but one that will also change the attitude of people.

Daniel Awet Akot, the Deputy Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative National Assembly, told Sudan Tribune that the parliament was ready to receive the draft and described it as another demonstration of the desire of the leadership to end all types of corruption, bribery, fraud, and other related offences.

Akot said the bill is very important and timely. He noted that since the advent of the present government, its primary objective among other things has been to wipe out corruption and ensure transparency and accountability. He said that corruption if not stopped, can deter development.

He added: “Just imagine someone appointed in a position and in just a year, you see the person driving luxurious vehicles, building [multi]storey buildings. The question is where and how did he or she get that money to live that life? Therefore, the Commission has come to complement the desire of the president and the government to end corruption and bribery which destroys the fabric of our society.”