March 10, 2017
The final report of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which is currently awaiting cabinet approval and subsequent white paper, recommended among other things, a revamp and stronger provision on corruption to be captured in the revised constitution of Sierra Leone.
“Taking into account the overwhelming concerns expressed, the CRC concluded that revamped and stronger provisions on corruption, including a detailed chapter on leadership and integrity, should be added to the revised Constitution. The leadership and integrity provisions should give clear guidance as to responsibilities of leadership, conduct of State officers, financial probity of State officers, restrictions on activities of State officers, and citizenship, to satisfy the public demand for transparency and effectiveness in tackling corruption at all levels,” the report recommended.
The report states that due to it limited scope, Section 6(5) of the 1991 Constitution, which provides that, “The State shall take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices and the abuse of power” be amended.
It reiterates that Section 6(5) should be amended to read as follows: “The State shall take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices and the abuse of power. All organs of Government, authorities and public officers shall not- (a) act in any way that is inconsistent with this Constitution or their office; and (b) expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests.
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“The issue of corruption and corrupt practices, although being tackled, is still a cause of major concern in Sierra Leone. It is recognised that the revised Constitution should strengthen the single reference to it in the 1991 Constitution which was described as being too scanty and weak,” the report stated.
The report referenced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report in 2004, which welcomed the steps taken by the government of Sierra Leone to address corruption especially by the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2000.
“The CRC was conscious of the findings of the TRC that corruption had played a significant role in contributing to the Civil War:-The Commission found that the central cause of the war was endemic greed, corruption and nepotism that deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people into a state of poverty,” stated the report.
It further highlighted the TRC recommendations under the headings “Promoting Good Governance” and “Combating Corruption” thus calling on all of those involved in the public sector to usher in a new culture of ethics and service and to fight the scourge of corruption which saps the life-force of Sierra Leone.
“Years of lapses in governance and unrestrained corruption produced the deplorable conditions that set the scene for bitter civil war in Sierra Leone. There is no option but to address bad governance and corruption head on. It would not be an overstatement to say that the survival of the nation depends on the success of society in confronting these issues,” the report cited TRC recommendation.
The CRC final report further cited the position paper of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) ,which recommended that eradication of corruption needed to be addressed in the reviewed constitution and that reduction of inefficiency, mismanagement and waste of public funds and assets should be recognised and addressed in the Constitution alongside the reference to eradication of corruption in Chapter II.
It also cited the Kono district Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (CPPS), which observed that in fighting corruption, good governance efforts rely on principles such as accountability, transparency and effective participation to shape anti-corruption measures.
“The CPSS statement continues: “until and unless the good/best practices in good governance are implemented without fear or favour we would ever remain far from sustainable development,” stated the report.
It again stated that the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP) in its position paper also called for the corruption provisions to be strengthened.
The CRC noted that during the nationwide consultations, people called for stronger measures and mechanisms to be introduced in the revised Constitution and other legislation to tackle corruption and corrupt practices at all levels, including public officials, parliamentarians, judiciary and the executive.