Corruption and patronage have been major obstacles to human and economic development in The Gambia. Benefiting from the lessons learned of Rwanda, which had started from similarly endemic levels of corruption less than 15 years ago, the Government of The Gambia is is scaling up its measures to improve service delivery, effectively tackle corruption problems and realize the necessary institutional reforms to increase accountability, access to information and rule of law.
Corruption and patronage have been major obstacles to human and economic development in The Gambia. The country is ranked 45 out of 176 countries in the Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index, with an overall decline from 34 points to 26 between 2012 and 2016. In terms of the Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance, the country has equally shown deterioration in all areas, especially in terms of safety and rule of law (ranking 33 out of 54 African countries in 2015) where important decline was namely due to deterioration of accountability mechanisms. An Anti-Corruption Act, providing for the set up of a permanent Anti-corruption Commission was set up in 2012, but has not been able to turn around this negative trend. This is in line with the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to address corruption in the public and private sectors which has been signed by The Gambia and 36 other African countries.
To benefit from the experience of an African pioneer in the fight on Anti-Corruption, a delegation from Gambia led by the Minister of Justice conducted a study tour to Rwanda in October 2015. Rwanda has adopted a zero tolerance policy on corruption and a large number of institutional reforms since 2004, including the establishment of a national Ombudsman office, which place the country on rank 50 of the Transparency International Corruption Index in 2016. (down from rank 102 in 2008). The office of the Ombudsman reports to the President of the Republic and has extended powers to investigate, prosecute, suspend temporarily suspects of corruption, recover assets, requests any document, testimonies, etc. as well as judgement execution (bailiff). The Gambian delegation met with Justice Sector Institutions, in particular the Ministry of Justice, the
National Public Prosecution Authority, the Rwanda National Police, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman. Rwandan officials shared their experience on legal and policy frameworks for anti-corruption and how they are implemented by the different institutions (police, judiciary, public audits of government expenditure, etc.) and the institutionalization of anticorruption measures within every government sector. Rwanda’s anti-corruption measures run across all aspects of the public service and have no boundaries. While annual auditing reports holds government accountable for its expenditures, the National Commussion for Human rights has the power of a judicial police and plays an important role in combating corruption through education and sensitization. Exchanges covered a wide range of issues from lessons learned in the set-up of an Anti-Corruption Commission in both countries to other institutional reform that were conducted in Rwanda. The Gambian delegation took great interest in the institutional and legal frameworks that have been set up by Rwanda to improve its legal possibilities to encourage citizens to report and immediately prosecute cases of corruption. Following the Gambia's democratic transition in December 2016, the Ministry of Justice and UNODC have convened a stakeholder workshop in August 2017, which made recommendations to ensure the Gambia’s legal framework on anti-corruption conform to international standards. A revised and strengthened Bill is being finalized by Ministry of Justice. The new government is scaling up its measures to improve service delivery, effectively tackle corruption problems and realize the institutional reforms necessary in the area of accountability, access to information and rule of law.
Supported by: UNDP
Implemented by: Ministry of Justice