Anti-corruption Conference 2016 – Unmask the Corrupt
Transparency Anti-corruption Conference was Tuesday March 8th 2016. British Council has brought Mr Roderick Macauley of the Ministry of Justice in the UK to present, “A legislative framework for tackling bribery in the 21st century” with His Excellency Tim Stew British High Commissioner introducing him and touching on the UK’s support for and efforts in the area of anti-corruption.
This conference was quite a high profile event with the current Chairman of Transparency International Mr Jose Ugaz opening the Conference with a passionate presentation on the issue of corruption globally, emphasising that political will and strong leadership was necessary for change and that going after ‘big fish’ decisively was needed.
Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago also delivered a strong message that as Prime Minister he and his government were committed to tackling the issue of corruption head on. Further, he indicated that he would not hesitate to act, and remove if necessary, if anyone in his government was found to be guilty of any form of corrupt practice after the necessary investigations etc have been carried out.
Other contributors to the conference covered areas of finance and cyber security along with the Transparency Youth members engaging in a debate, ‘Be it resolved that the corrupt with remain masked because citizens allow it’.
Mr Macauley spoke about the legal framework necessary to allow the relevant authorities to identify, arrest and prosecute cases of corruption. He spoke about Britain’s experience and what brought about the updating of their laws and noted that Trinidad needed to do a similar exercise. While all the things mentioned on the day, political will, leadership, community empowerment and so on were all good initiatives, nothing would really change if there are no prosecutions. These can only come with changes in the legislative system to help ensure ‘big fish’ were indeed prosecuted.
Mr Macauley also participated in a programme of meetings with local stakeholders and interest groups including a meeting Civil Society organisations and a workshop delivered to the local Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, which were all well received.
It was a successful conference with a lot for persons to consider, but more so the authorities such as the government, Transparency International T&T chapter with regard to their approach and keeping corruption issues at the public domain and lobbying the necessary agencies to act where corruption is unmasked. We too at British Council need to challenge ourselves with the way forward building on the both 2016 and 2015 conferences and the discussions held then to look at our contribution toward empowering CSO’s, people, youth and supporting the authorities to unmask the corrupt.