Nation Talks

Corruption must be criminalized now

By Kiden Stela Mandela

In every country, corruption of whatever kind has not been legalized. Governments have put in place legal instruments to deter, criminalize and punish those who might be found at the altar of it. Similarly, the government of South Sudan has some legal settings and jurisdiction that fight corruption. But there are no well-functioning institutions to deal with the corruption. These couples with lack of political will to fight it.

The legal instruments and institutions that fight corruption are all supposed to stand alone from any political or military pressure and must have safeguard and guarantee their operations constitutionally.

Corruption normally covers length of parameters and fighting it is so thorny. It’s the moral responsibility of the government to spearhead the fight against corruption. However, most of the corruption takes place in government institutions or offices. The corrupters in such offices are very sophisticated, highly connected to influential figures, and wield candid bureaucratic skills that give hard time to auditors to detect. In a well-established system of governance, corruption is highly regarded as threat that if not well handled, will interfere with the normal functioning of the state. As such, intelligence agencies are empowered to tackle white collar crimes (in this case corruption in public offices) regardless of who holds the office.

The agencies’ primary responsibility is to collect information and substantive evidence on corruption and abuses and legally report direct to the country’s attorney general’s office. Then the attorney general’s office together with public prosecutor’s office will examine the report after that, they issue indictment or the report further will necessitate investigation which either will lead to prosecution in court of law or to withdraw the investigation if it lacks evidence. This governance operation requires strong institutions and good political practices from the top leadership in the country down to the grass-roots otherwise it will fail.

The reason why corruption is not legally being fought in our country is because of the flaws in institutional settings. And the politicians at the center of the decision making have not guaranteed the autonomy of the institutions designed to fight corruption. All long, there have not been any serious proceedings in court of law involving corruption in public offices, just because the perpetrators have insured themselves that corruption is not a crime, and nobody can touch them.

On the other hand, the human resources to fight the scandalous dealings are not well equipped with knowledge and apparatus to do their job. The end results are that every day we say we don’t have fund to do this and that, public institutions are weakening every day, and no services delivery. There have been numerous reports authored by international experts and organizations alleging that the country is the most corrupt. That should set the ground for policies’ direction to fight corruption not just rubbishing it every day.

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