Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, hosted a two-day workshop in Cairo to debate the reforms necessary to make Egyptian institutions more resilient to corruption and more accountable to the public.
Entitled “Towards a new integrity system in Egypt”, the workshop brought together more than 75 members of government, media, academics, judiciary and civil society to agree on the first steps to making Egyptian institutions strong and independent so that they can enforce anti-corruption laws and uphold freedom of expression.
These discussions can act as a starting point for a new anti-corruption framework, with measures that ensure all actors in the Egyptian state – including leaders, public officials and security forces - act with integrity.
“In this meeting people inside and outside worked together driven by a common determination to create a truly effective and comprehensive anti-corruption system. There is a very clear mood that we cannot allow rules and institutions to be side-stepped by those in power,” said Omnia Hussein, In-Country Programme Coordinator for Transparency International in Egypt. “Egypt must have a state-of-the-art system of checks and balances so that there are no longer exceptions to anti-corruption rules.”
Among the measures called for to improve accountability and transparency are:
- New laws that guarantee that all public officials are accountable, with no exceptions.
- Ensure the total independence of anti-corruption bodies, and expand their remit to include relations between the public and private sectors such as public procurement. Their reports must be made publicly available.
- Strong laws on freedom of information and whistle-blower protection. Accountability rules must apply to all areas of government, without exemptions for areas like defence or justice
- Financial institutions must exercise constant scrutiny of any clients who are public officials
- Creation of a national body responsible for a comprehensive national strategy for combating corruption
- The creation of the role of ombudsman to investigate citizens’ complaints.
Learning from the past
“Egypt is still suffering from corruption. The fall of one leader will not cure the weakness of institutions that until now have not been able to consistently enforce anti-corruption rules,” said Omnia Hussein. “This is where civil society can make a difference if given space to operate freely, in a way that was not allowed in the past. The fact that members of government and judiciary are openly discussing the future transparency of state institutions is a good start for the new Egypt.”
Last year, Transparency International published an analysis of Egyptian state institutions and their contribution to accountability and integrity. It found that even where mechanisms for transparency and accountability did exist, they were undermined by lack of independence and political will to fight corruption. It also highlighted lack of space for civil society and protection for whistleblowers.
Egypt scores 3.1 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a scale which goes from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, with chapters in 94 countries around the world, including Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine.
Deborah Wise Unger
Tel: +49 30 34 38 20 666