Judge attributes corruption in Egypt to gaps in legislation

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By Zainab Abou Elkhair

CAIRO: Egypt fails to comply with the standards of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), according to a report published by Transparency International (TI) this week.

Egypt mainly falls short when it comes to implementing effective policies, practices and bodies to prevent corruption in the legislative system.

Although committees have been established to monitor corruption, they are all subordinates of executive power and thus lack judicial competence, according to the 2011 report titled “Legislation in Egypt: An analysis of compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption.”

Other inadequacies concern public officials in areas such as employment, private sector jobs, conflict of interest and codes of conduct. Current laws contain serious loopholes and are often contradictory, giving way to corruption.

Judge Ashraf El-Baroudi, vice president of the Egyptian High Court of Appeals and one of the authors of the report, said, “Egypt had adopted a free-market system. A free economy requires a free political system. Both need to grow equally in terms of freedom, however this was not the case in Egypt and it created a gap.”

Chapter II of the UNCAC outlines preventive measures against corruption. Egypt is one of the 140 countries which have ratified the UNCAC; yet, results show grave deficiency in measures taken to prevent corruption.

El-Baroudi told Daily News Egypt, “There was no system [in place] to generate an independent entity which would monitor the economy; and as a result the economic climate deteriorated.

“The vast difference between the one and the other — the gap — is what is called corruption. It is a pit in which people fall for the sake of money.”

He called for immediate reforms aimed at tackling corruption.

Other pressing issues that need to be addressed include protection of whistleblowers, a transparent and competitive procurement system, management of public finances and transparent public administration as well as freedom to access and disseminate information.

“The gaps in legislation,” as Omnia Hussein, TI program coordinator, calls it, “allowed corruption to flourish.”

“The current legislations will not be sufficient in a post-revolution Egypt,” she told DNE. “In order to stop history from repeating itself, action must be taken before the window of opportunity closes.”

According to Hussein, a “detailed, comprehensive and enforceable strategy, or working plan” is to be put in place.

The report gives a number of recommendations which include the implementation of independent entities to monitor corruption, ways to promote transparency in the civil service and the revision and amendment of legislation.

Judge El-Baroudi told DNE that Egypt’s failure to comply came from “bad political will.”

“The biggest achievement we have had so far is that we have changed political will,” he said of the January 25 Revolution.

“The political will before was to corrupt the system — now the political will strives towards fairness,” he added with a hint of optimism.

Although the technical aspects of a more transparent state are yet to be enforced, El-Baroudi said the “strong and bright youth of Egypt are loyal to their ideals and are a reassurance in the fight against corruption.”

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