EU commends Seychelles on priority given to combat corruption |09 December 2020
As the world celebrates the International Anti-Corruption Day, the European Union commends Seychelles on the priority given to combat what is considered as one of the biggest challenges of all societies.
Corruption is defined as the abuse of power for private gain. It weakens and even destroys democracy, affects economic development and compromises social justice and the rule of law. This is why it should be aggressively combatted. The ambassador of the European Union (EU), Vincent Degert, commends Seychelles on the priority given to this fight and is pleased of the support that the EU is providing both to government and the civil society in combatting corruption.
The ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius, Vincent Degert said: "The EU is pleased to assist Seychelles in the fight against corruption. Our support is even more important during the current crisis as it helps in avoiding exploitation of the weak, in supporting meritocracy, in giving everyone the chance they deserve, and in ensuring the country's credibility. In short, to increase trust in the institutional set-up. The EU finances two projects on fight against corruption: one with the Anti-Corruption Commission Seychelles and one with Transparency Initiative. As the projects include sensitisation, I am particularly hopeful to see a major change in the attitude on corruption – and this is possible because people are better informed and now understands more clearly what corruption means with all the risks involved and their negative consequences. Today there is growing intolerance towards corruption. People are more ready to denounce these practices. Because they realise that they deserve to get the job that they have applied for based on their qualifications. Because their children deserve to get the school they are eligible to. Because their parents deserve to get the treatment at the hospital without having to resort to paying for it when the service is free. In short, because there should be trust in the system”.
According to May de Silva, CEO of ACCS: "The funding from the EU has brought a new direction and way of working for the young professionals at ACCS. Firstly, the funding for Transparency Initiative has been a huge success in the schools and the prevention team continue to work with the Youth Against Corruption school group. We have made huge strides in the Investigations Unit and the team are working hard to complete the first cases to be submitted to the Attorney General’s office as we do not have a prosecution unit as yet. We anticipate an extension to the current funding which will assist ACCS in acquiring its case management system and specialist support in the area of investigations and prosecution."
Corruption unfortunately happens everywhere, including in the EU. Since 2011, the European Commission is therefore implementing its communication on ‘Fighting Corruption in the EU’. This communication is the basis for EU support to anti-corruption policies in order to strengthen good governance and democratisation as part of its development policy. A series of laws have also been passed in this regard in areas such as anti-money laundering and public procurement.
Fight against corruption, as part of good governance, is also a key priority of the EU's external action. This is why the EU – upon request made by government in 2019 – has embarked on an important institutional capacity building programme for an envelope of R4.5 million which consists in supporting the work of the ACCS. The ACCS has the authority to investigate, detect and prevent corrupt practices and since recently, undertake prosecution. This represents not just a big workload, but a huge responsibility for a young institution which has a limited staff pool. Therefore, the EU support comes in the form of a solid and experienced technical assistance team to reinforce the capacity of the institution: three senior European investigators posted at the commission for a period of one year since 2019 to assist staff in undertaking investigations and train them. A prolongation of this assistance as requested by ACCS is currently under discussions.
The fight against corruption does not concern only repression and its deterrent effect. It is equally important to prevent it from happening. The most successful fight against corruption is the capacity to avoid or dissuade before it happens. This is the reason why the EU is, in parallel, supporting another project of R4.5 m with Transparency Initiative Seychelles. The project's aim is to raise awareness and establish procedures to prevent corruption. This is essential because people may not be fully aware of what corruption entails. Activities, which started in 2017, include awareness campaigns, which were undertaken ‒ jointly with ACCS ‒ in all primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Seychelles.
Press release from the European Union