OAS secretary general lauds interest in combating regional corruption
WASHINGTON, USA, Wednesday September 12, 2012 – Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), highlighted the growing interest of the countries of the region in the fight against corruption, at Monday’s opening of the 20th meeting of experts of the mechanism for follow-up on the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).
Speaking at the inauguration of the event at OAS headquarters in Washington DC, Insulza said that it was "gratifying that this is the twentieth time that this committee has met and it confirms that our countries have a growing interest in participating".
The OAS secretary general said that, through MESICIC, the organization "continues to help our countries to strengthen their legal and institutional frameworks to address corruption more effectively, to make concrete recommendations so that they can benefit from the provisions of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate this scourge, through its proper implementation."
Insulza listed as among the achievements reached by MESICIC during the past third round of Committee of Experts: the detection of bribes disguised as legitimate expenses intended to be used to obtain tax benefits, criminal liability for companies that pay bribes, both in the case of domestic and foreign officials, the establishment of accounting requirements that prevent the formation of "front companies" whose purpose is to commit acts of corruption, and avoiding that the defense of "professional secrets" serves as an obstacle to denouncing corruption.
He also mentioned "the classification of illicit enrichment of public servants, a key issue for the effective punishment of corruption,” and "extradition for crimes of corruption."
Insulza recalled that during the months of March and April 2012, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Bolivia and Paraguay were visited by members of the Department of Legal Cooperation of the OAS; visits in which meetings were held with "more than 30 public institutions" of the five mentioned countries, and "more than 90 public officials were interviewed”.
During the sessions of the meeting of the Committee of Experts participants will discuss mutual cooperation between MESICIC and the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative initially promoted by the United States and Brazil, which many states in the region have joined, and which seeks to encourage concrete commitments from governments, with the participation of civil society to improve transparency and access to information.
Insulza stressed that the presidents of the United States, Barack Obama, and Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, "issued a statement last year, in which they pledged to jointly support the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, including the development and use of national action plans and joint support of the visits in situ."
"From the General Secretariat of the OAS we have supported the states by providing tools to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations that this Committee has made. Among these is the development of national action plans, a project which 17 states have already taken on: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic Dominican, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay," he said.
The chief representative of the hemispheric organization said that the General Secretariat "has promoted the exchange between our countries of knowledge and experience in fighting corruption, hosting events such as the Conference on Progress and Challenges in Hemispheric Cooperation against Corruption, held last year in Cali, Colombia, with the support of the government of that country."
In this regard, Insulza said, "We are very satisfied with the explicit recognition made by the Conference of States Parties to the MESICIC at its last meeting, concerning the usefulness of legal cooperation tools developed by the Technical Secretariat of MESICIC such as the systematization of national laws, legislative guides, model laws, the Anti-Corruption Portal of the Americas, and the Anti-Corruption Bulletin, as well as the Action Plans program mentioned above.
"The OAS General Secretariat continues to make available to the countries of the MESICIC more and better tools of cooperation to help them to fight corruption," he concluded.