West African Justice Ministers against corruption

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- West African Justice Ministers have called for a joint international diplomatic and legal action to retrieve illegal wealth stashed in financial institutions abroad.
Saying that corruption has moved beyond criminal issues and is now affecting development, the Ministers recommended the promulgation of comprehensive protocols to cover repatriation of illegal wealth and money laundering across borders.
"Corruption is not only a criminal issue but also impacts on the dynamics of national and international development that deserve collective solution," the Ministers said in a declaration released on Wednesday at the end of their two-day meeting in Accra.
The conference was organised jointly by ECOWAS and the Ghana government for collaboration against corruption and for effective strategies and mechanism among member states.
Corruption has become a major issue in the sub-region as the governments struggle to satisfy the needs of the people.
The Ministers discussed the ECOWAS protocols to check cross-border corruption and promote a coalition.
They observed that the existing sub-regional protocols were inadequate to effectively check corruption and proposed the harmonisation of judicial processes by member states, to deal with the problem.
"We should endeavour to harmonise and consolidate our laws into a sub-regional protocol against corruption, which will, include extradition, information management and judicial process," the Ministers said.
They urged the adoption of "an all-embracing" approach to corruption control, which shall encompass diagnostics and research, investigations and prosecution, civil education, mobilisation of public opinion, as well as institutional and legal reforms.
"We call on governments in the region to demonstrate the political will and resolute leadership in the implementation of viable national and international strategies on corruption within the bonds of rule of law and tenets of democracy," the declaration said.
The Ministers recommended to heads of State and Governments in the region to direct the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat to work out a comprehensive sub-regional protocol on corruption.
They also called for collaboration between private, public and State actors especially, a free and responsible media within a liberal and legal environment.
Participants unanimously agreed that the Accra Declaration should form the basis of the ECOWAS input into next week's global conference on "fighting corruption and safeguarding integrity" taking place at the Hague.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday said African countries should fight corruption from all fronts to have the needed support and assistance from developed countries.
He told ECOWAS Ministers of Justice, who called on him at the State House, that the conference was very vital for the sub-region because corruption was destroying the society, while Africa was perceived globally as the home of the worst form of corruption.
"It is a perception we must fight against, it might not have basis but if it has at all, it is not as being perceived," Kufuor noted.
He said wherever African governments sought co-operation and support, they were told that the "assistance given to them filtered away into people's pockets" and this has become a major problem for governments in Africa.

23 may 2001 18:57:00




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