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South Sudan upgrades Anti-Corruption Commission, dismisses deputy chairperson.

By James Gatdet Dak August 22, 2009 (JUBA) -- The Anti-Corruption Commission for the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan has been given a special status beyond the other public service institutions as the government steps up the fight against corruption in the region.

The employees of the anti-corruption body, according to a resolution passed on Friday by the Council of Ministers, will have their salaries and other emoluments increased above the normal public service increment regulations. The status of the Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Pauline Riak, has been upgraded to the status of a minister in the Government of Southern Sudan, and in accordance with the Friday decision, her salary and other benefits were resolved to be set higher than those of the minister. Her Deputy Chairperson will enjoy the status of a state minister. This treatment of a special status will also apply to the Chairperson and staff of the Commission for Human Rights which is also given an equal political importance. The anti-corruption body chairperson, who was invited to the cabinet meeting during the time her proposal was presented to the Council of Ministers by the Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, argued that the nature of her institution's work required increase of remunerations for her staff in addition to some other benefits. "For an institution that has a reputation as a highly specialized one, integrity is a core value to it and officers need to have that confidence and assurance in form of well paying packages and allowances," she argued in her proposal. Dr. Riak was concerned that without a sort of compensation in form of better remuneration, her staff may fall prey to bribery. "There is a saying that corruption fights backeC*While earning less does not give one a ticket to accept bribes, it is very possible that a person handling such sensitive matters and has not been cushioned in terms of proper remuneration can easily fall prey to bribery advances," she stated. She said corruption barons and their agents are always on the prowl and will make all attempts to thwart any efforts to control it. The Commission's Chairperson also complained of delay by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in releasing her institution's annual budgets, which she said, has been greatly affecting her Commission's intended activities. "Financial independence [of the Commission] is not only a requirement implied in the Constitution but it is a global requirement of all anti-corruption bodies. Having to disclose information in advance, each time money is requested from the Ministry, equally undermines confidentiality as each time the Commission has to disclose its intended activities to third parties," she underlined. The situation, she added, has cost the Commission dearly in the sense that it has lost quite a good number of highly trained staff to other well paying institutions both governmental "such as the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development and non governmental agencies such as UN and NGOs." She also complained of under-staffing because of restrictions placed on her recruitment needs by the Ministry of Public Service and Human Resources Development, thus justifying her request for the Commission to be treated with a special political status beyond some of the public service regulations. This year as a result, she stated, the Commission failed to recruit a badly needed 25 professionals as it has shortage of investigators to carry out the work. According to the resolution the Commission's chairperson and other senior officers of the institution will have their security protection considered among the other benefits. "Due to the nature of their work, threats become real leading to much guided interaction, loss of their friends and freedom to social interaction, work long hours and are always on call," Dr. Riek added. The Commission also carried out a survey of the anti-corruption bodies in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda and found out that their remuneration and benefits are higher than mainstream government employees and institutions. For example, the Head of the Ethiopian Anti-Corruption Commission is paid double salary of that of a Federal Minister, the head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission earns more than the Kenyan President and the head of the Inspectorate of Government of Uganda earns more than a national minister. They also enjoy other privileges such as accommodation, medical cover, entertainment, domestic help allowances, travel allowances and security protection for the Heads and top management staff. Dr. Pauline Riak stated that anti-corruption bodies have international standing and that her team would strike at run-away culprits beyond international borders during investigations and recovery of assets stolen and taken to foreign countries around the globe. "The global part of it [the Commission] comes by virtue of the obligation of all nations to recognize the Commissions and to assist them in undertaking investigations and fulfilling their mandate within their territories," she assured. She said the Commission intends to employ the best qualified staff and provide them with high quality training in Sudan and abroad because, she explained, "fighting corruption is a high risk business and requires a lot of confidentiality and a highly developed networking system to accomplish the mandate." DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON SACKED In another related development, President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a Presidential decree this week relieving the deputy chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission. It was not clear to the press what caused the dismissal of the second powerful chief of the Commission. It is however seen by the public as part of the ongoing reform to empower the Commission. President Kiir also announced last week that the anti-corruption body would be empowered to not only investigate cases of corruption, but also prosecute the culprits. Over a thousand corruption cases are believed to be sitting in the Commissioner's office since 2006 and awaiting investigations and possible prosecutions of the culprits. The power to prosecute had been previously entrusted to the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development. No official has ever been prosecuted for having involved in corrupt practices since the establishment of the Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission in 2006. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Aug 23, 2009
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