IIC Forum Calls for Establishment of an ‘International Anti-corruption Court’

By DANFES

To contain corruption, legal eagles have sought inception of International Anti-corruption Court in India that would serve as court of last resort for grand corruption. The idea was coined at the Roundtable Forum on “Ending Impunity for Kleptocrats and Accomplices: Do We Need an International Anti-Corruption Court?” The Roundtable Forum was organized by the by India International Centre (IIC), Integrity Initiatives International and Carnegie Mellon University in Australia at IIC, New Delhi.

Describing problem of corruption is not the absence of laws against corruption, but the inability of legal institutions to apply the law against corrupt officials and accomplices at the Roundtable, Professor Emil Bolongaita, Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University said, “It is increasingly difficult for countries to tackle grand corruption because of the complex nature of the crime involving high ranking officials, multinational corporations, and banks in secrecy jurisdiction moving illicit assets across jurisdictions.” Dr Bolongaita explained that “the idea of the international anti-corruption court would be to serve as court of last resort for grand corruption”. The court, he said, “would investigate and prosecute officials and accomplices when their home countries’ institutions are unable or unwilling to prosecute them”.

Standing in sync with Professor Bolongaita; Dr G Venkatesh Rao, Advocate, Supreme Court of India spoke about the need for setting up an Anti-Corruption Commission in India, which must be a public body approachable by the citizens at large and must have a constitutional status like that of National Human Rights Commission, and Election Commission of India. He said Freedom of Press and protection to activists and media are vital to combating corruption. The approach to be adopted is that Governments and businesses must do more to encourage free speech, independent media, political dissent and an open and engaged civil society. There should be minimization of regulations on media, including traditional and new media, and ensure that journalists can work without fear of repression or violence.  Efforts should be to promote laws that focus on access to information, to ensure transparency and accountability. Governments must not only invest in an appropriate legal framework for such laws, but also seriously commit to their implementation.

“The real independence of India will come when it becomes a corruption-less society,” former Attorney-General Soli J Sorabjee pronounced at the beginning of the Roundtable Forum on “Ending Impunity for Kleptocrats and Accomplices: Do We Need an International Anti-Corruption Court?” held at India International Centre.

Dr Narinder Singh, former Chairman of the International Law Commission and former Legal Adviser to the Ministry of External Affairs, said that corruption is “an insidious plague, whose effects are most destructive in the developing world, and undermine governments’ ability to deliver public services.” He said that the “World Bank estimates that $20-40 billion are estimated to be the proceeds of corruption and yet in the 15 years since the UN Convention against Corruption has been enacted, only $5 billion has been returned to the countries concerned”.