The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), has on Monday 11th February 2019, launched a report on the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI), at its head office at Wilkinson Road, Freetown, titled: "Voices and views on Sierra Leone's Commission of Inquiry".
Within the context of the COI and its stated objectives, this brief survey by IGR gauges the temperature of the country on the GTT Report and the COI as the legitimate mechanism to expose and address corruption, from an independent perspective.
The survey report which was launched to members of the civil society and media, with the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission as the distinguished guest at the event; was conducted between 6th- 8th March 2018, targeting 1,146 respondents from across three cities (Bo, Kenema, Makeni), at a margin of error of +/- 5%. According to the data found in the report, 81% of the respondents across the three cities had a general consensus that the COI will be fair; 6% disagreed—stating that it will not be fair; whilst 16% of the respondent stated uncertainty—stating that they don’t know if it will be fair.
Additionally, another positive aspect of the survey report was the views expressed by the respondents in terms of whether or not the COI will target ethic groups; 84% expressed belief that the COI is not targeting ethnic groups; whilst 11% stated it will be targeting ethnic groups; 5% stating they don’t know.
What is of great importance to note in this report is the focus on the changing institutional behaviour.
Changing institutional behaviours will require reforms of systems and implementing accountability for individual corrupt behaviour. This was also a major focus of the survey.
To this end, the survey looked at the Anti-Corruption Commission—being the institution mandated by law to fight corruption-- to assess progress, stagnations or reversals before July 2018; and after July 2018, using a comparative approach. The following improvements have been made according to the findings of the survey:
1.There was weak asset declaration regime targeting senior public officials. But after July 2018, the ACC has completed and now tabled in Parliament an amendment of an act that will strengthen the legal framework in the fight against corruption. In addition, regulation has been enacted aiming at strengthening public accountability through asset declaration; reducing the number of people declaring assets to largely focus on those with clear political affiliations, rather than teachers etc.
2. Secondly, ACC prosecutors were only resident in Freetown, which created backlog of cases in the provinces. The report indicates that ACC now has permanent prosecutors recruited and posted to Bo and Makeni. The Bo resident prosecutor covers Bo and Kenema, whereas the Makeni resident prosecutor covers Makeni and Kono.
3. There were no designated judges to try corruption cases, however, the Commission has successfully lobbied the judiciary to designate judges with a primary focus on corruption matters.