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Corruption and Human Rights – Bridging the Gap

Written by Jameela Raymond on Friday, 27 October 2017

Corruption is an issue which have people campaigned against, endeavoured to understand and fought to eradicate for a very long time. More and more, however, we are learning – or perhaps, forcibly remembering – that it is a cross-cutting phenomenon which does not happen in isolation of other global concerns. Regimes which are guilty of violating their citizens’ human rights are too often also guilty of enabling the corrupt to carry out their illicit activities with impunity, and we must do more to understand the connections between these two urgent global issues.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between our parallel streams of work, Transparency International UK brought together experts and activists from both the corruption and human rights communities at an event, Corruption and Human Rights: A Conversation.  Our panel for the evening consisted of: Rebecca Vincent, the UK Bureau Director of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters San Frontiers); Michael Bowes QC, Deputy High Court Judge in Outer Temple, and Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Shadow UK Attorney General since 2016 and former Director of Liberty.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti used the occasion to announce that a Labour government would take three major steps in the fight against corruption: establishing a public register of beneficial ownership information over foreign companies that own property in the UK; guaranteeing the future, funding and independence of the Serious Fraud Office, and; to publish the long-overdue UK Anti-Corruption Strategy. The property register now enjoys cross-party support, and the Government has committed to legislation on this by April 2018.

Michael Bowes QC provoked the audience with a discussion around whether the corrupt, who often directly or indirectly impact the human rights of those around them, should still be permitted the right to have a fair trial for their alleged illegal activities. Whilst the right to a fair trial is universally accepted, the reality is that the prosecuting side of the trial is frequently under-resourced and under-represented in the face of the huge defence afforded by the group or individual suspected of corrupt activity. Rebecca Vincent explained the correlation between countries which score poorly on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and also tend to score poorly on TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Corrupt officials often seek to silence those who expose their wrongdoings and criticise them, and the recent murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is just one example of the stark reality of risks that come with journalists seeking to uncover the state of corruption all over the world. TI is supporting a vigil in memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, from 1-2pm on Thursday 2 November. If you’d like to join, more information is here.

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Read 51 times Last modified on Friday, 27 October 2017 15:29
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Jameela Raymond

Jameela is Transparency International UK's Senior Policy Officer. You can follow her on Twitter @jameelaraymond

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