All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke

March 3, 2008

Vol 5 No 10

The Truth Shall Set You Free----------The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth---------Exposing human rights abusers





The Sierra Herald would continue to remind the authorities in Sierra Leone about the need for them to minimise corruption and this medium strongly believes that examples of honesty and general integrity must be initiated by those put in positions of trust and leadership.

A summit of the African Union on corruption held in 2002 clearly highlighted just how serious this evil is within African societies. For a continent to lose as much as an estimated 148 billion dollars annually through corruption speaks volumes of the need to drastically reduce, if not eliminate corruption.

In Sierra Leone, we would urge the authorities to put their money where their mouths are and tackle this problem that has reduced a once-proud nation to begging on her knees.

Now is the time to get things done rather than relying on sound bytes to please donors.

Now is the time to show that the future of Sierra Leone rests squarely on all of us.

We take this opportunity of constantly reminding ourselves of what has been said of corruption in Sierra Leone. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah even went as far as to link it with the security of the State.

We need to remind ourselves of the importance of setting achievable goals and implementing strategies that would lead us to our dreams of making life worth living for all Sierra Leoneans.

This calls for even more role-model demonstrations of good governance, accountability and the rule of law from leaders. It is a must therefore, that all those who are put in public trust set examples for others to follow and the Sierra Herald would want to remind all those in authority and the general public about what has been stated in connection with the issue of corruption, the cancer that is destroying the very fabric of Sierra Leone. Excerpts from some key statements.
It should hardly be necessary to restate the harm that corruption does. Corruption is corrosive. It eats away at and undermines all other achievements of government. It has enormous impact on the economic growth of the country. If there is to be employment for the youth of Sierra Leone those jobs must be created by economic growth. You are all aware of the dangers of a lack of things to do for young people, and of a sense on their part, not only that their personal futures are uncertain, but most dangerously that others in society continue to profit from corrupt behaviour. We know that the level of growth needed depends on investment but what deters investors from coming to Sierra Leone? Of course, there are problems of lack of infrastructure, caused in part by the recent conflict. There are legal and regulatory barriers that must be addressed. But can investors be confident that they will be able to go about their business without having to defer to established corrupt practices? There has been at least one organised visit by expatriate Sierra Leoneans intended to encourage investment by them here. Why has so little come of this? Is it not at least in part because they are not prepared to submit themselves to the need to connive in corrupt practices? Hilary Benn, UK Development minister, Freetown March 10, 2004


Corruption, either grand (the looting of state coffers by those in public trust, the illegal trading in diamonds) or petty (the charge demanded by a low-ranking official for a service that should be free), remains endemic in Sierra Leone. It has become a way of life for many. Society has come to accept, even expect, corruption. As always the poor suffer most, and the poorest of the poor most of all. They are denied access to education, healthcare and medicine because they cannot afford to make the extra payments demanded by corrupt officials. They are denied justice when the legal system is twisted by bribery. And they suffer when corruption diverts scarce resources away from development or deters essential domestic and international investment.

The system for prosecuting those found out is itself corrupted by inertia, and the failure to punish those responsible. The temptation therefore remains.

Too many of the people entering politics and the civil service in Sierra Leone do so in order to make money. Personal gain, or loyalty to family, tribe or party, is put before national interest. And the consequence of this is that the country is damaged and everyone loses out.
Clare Short, former British Development minister


Corruption within both the public and private sectors in Sierra Leone is endemic. It permeates all levels of government and most business transactions. Scandals involving the looting of state coffers and development aid are commonplace. Even though the situation has recently improved, a large percentage of Sierra Leone's diamonds are still thought to be traded illegally, depriving the Sierra Leonean government of much needed revenue to support public services.

Petty corruption, extortion, and bribe-taking, particularly by police officers or low ranking officials, is rampant. Money has to change hands in order to secure entrance for children into public school, receive treatment in a public clinic, obtain a permit, authorisation, or letter from a ministry, or even file a police report. Corruption has historically bought the support of both the police and the army, making them subject to political interference and undermining their duty to protect. Personal gain through corruption remains the primary motivation for those entering the civil service.....the efforts of those seeking redress through the legal system are often frustrated by corruption within the very system designed to combat it.
Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, July 2002


It is worth emphasising that all our efforts to provide food for the hungry, clean water and electricity for our people, build and equip hospitals and schools throughout the country, would be futile if we do not eliminate corruption - that vicious enemy of our society.

Once again, I wish to assure you that I have personally committed myself to the continuing fight against corruption at all levels of our society, and in both the public and private sectors. Honourable members, I need your help in this struggle against this enemy of the nation. I entreat you to regard corruption as a national security issue. It is that serious.

....We will continue to maintain zero tolerance for corruption. In order to reinforce our national anti-corruption strategy, we will ensure the speedy prosecution of corruption cases by appointing a Judge or Judges with sole responsibility over such cases.
President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah at the State opening of Parliament in July, 2002


....I wanted to say to you that my first introduction to Sierra Leone came many many years ago because my father used to come to Freetown to the University there to teach. And I remember him telling me what a wonderful country it was and how friendly and warm the people were. And if we think back to the past and the possibilities then, and if we look forward to the future now, then I think we can see that this dreadful process of conflict is not the true Sierra Leone. It is an aberration of the true Sierra Leone. I only wish that I've been able to spend more time and come to Sierra Leone and visit Freetown, I hope very much at some later stage it would be possible to do so, but I say to you from the bottom of my heart, that there is I believe the real prospect of changing your country today for the better.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during brief visit to Lungi, Sierra Leone in February 2002


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©Sierra Herald 2002