Transparency International today called on governments in the Middle East and North Africa region to improve the integrity and transparency of their political processes.
At the global anti-corruption organisation’s third and final regional roundtable, convened in Cairo this week, over sixty representatives and experts from civil society, governments and the private sector across the region gathered to discuss how to promote integrity as a key benchmark in holding political office.
“Recently passed constitutions in Egypt and Tunisia make this an opportune time to emphasise transparency and integrity for those entrusted in representing voters who have elected them,” said Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International.
“Transparency International research has shown that the political parties and parliaments are considered among the most corrupt institutions in the region,” said Eigen. “Governments should toughen prosecutions for corruption and repeal immunity for corrupt officials in a demonstration of genuine commitment towards democratic transition.”
Participants at the roundtable formulated several recommendations that governments should apply, and civil society should monitor. These include:
Legislators should criminalise illicit enrichment of public officials and allow for confiscation of all unlawful assets
Anti-corruption agencies should cooperate with electoral commissions in monitoring political campaign financing
Legislators should criminalise political parties unduly influencing voters
Governments should fully enforce legislation on conflicts of interest of high level government officials
Governments must pass laws that make it harder for officials to abuse their power while holding public office, and meaningfully contribute to fighting corruption in the Middle East and North Africa.
Transparency International conceived the regional roundtable series as a response to the important political transformations in the region since 2011. These transformations have opened up the space for civil society to play a more powerful role in determining the future of their societies and ensuring that more transparent, just and accountable systems of governance are put in place.
The first roundtable in Amman focused on the need for an accountable judiciary and the strengthening of the rule of law. The second roundtable in Tunis aimed at solidifying the links between civil society and anti-corruption agencies in the region.
Transparency International is committed in building on the recommendations from the roundtables in Amman, Tunis and Cairo to enhance political integrity in the region.