Asian Human Rights Commission takes govt to task for not doing what it undertook to do

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has faulte the new government for lacking credible strategy for eliminating corruption.

The new government has not yet seriously contemplated an effective strategy that could achieve the successful results some other countries have achieved, AHRC says. As Albert Einstein once said, it is foolish to do the same thing and expect different results. However, this is exactly what the new Government is engaged in, the AHRC said in a press release yesterday. 

"One of the promises of Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, as common candidate at the last presidential election, was the elimination of corruption, i.e. something the last government was steeped in. Elimination of corruption is therefore a major objective of his newly elected government. His catchwords were Yaha palanaya (good governance), which itself implies radical elimination of corruption. Today, 75 days into his palanaya (rule), there is hardly anything that the government can claim as an achievement, save for announcements of some inquiries initiated and some restrictions imposed on a few persons to prevent them travelling overseas.

"There is nothing to be surprised about this outcome. The new government did not have and does not have a well thought out strategy on the elimination of corruption. It has merely attempted ad hoc actions and broadcast a lot of public statements, rather than work on an overall strategy that can lay the groundwork for the elimination of corruption. 

"The greatest weakness of the Sri Lankan Commission against Bribery and Corruption is the huge space available within this set up for leaking information on actual investigations. Particularly when the "big fish" are involved, leaking of information is inevitable. The remedy adopted to plug leaks in successful models of corruption prevention is to remove the anti-corruption body from having any links to the police. The Sri Lankan Commission against Bribery and corruption employs police officers in their investigative functions. No doubt there are efficient and honourable members of the police who also do their job efficiently. However, within the overall framework, even these good officers have to work with other officers and that is the manner in which information leaks can occur.

"The AHRC urges the new President and the Prime Minister to take a serious look at the strategy they have been following and to make the necessary changes that will enable the government to do the job of eliminating corruption in an effective manner," the release said.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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