Morocco to launch anti-corruption authority

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Morocco to launch anti-corruption authority


Moroccan politicians and civil society leaders welcomed the creation of a new anti-corruption authority in Morocco but cautioned against its affiliation to the government. 

By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 26/08/08

[Sarah Touahri] The creation of an anti-corruption authority in Morocco came one step closer to reality last week, but critics warn that its independence from the government would be questionable.

The Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption, first authorised in a decree last year but never realised, moved closer to becoming an actual government entity when King Mohammed VI appointed Abdesselam Boudrar, one of the founding members of Transparency Maroc, as its chief.

In an August 20th speech, the monarch called on the government to work actively to see that the body becomes a reality. “In our efforts to ensure that public affairs are conducted in an ethical manner, we must now establish the Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption… It behoves all of us to show vigilance and resolve, to obey the rule of law and the authority of an independent institution and to make use of monitoring and accountability mechanisms in order to put an end to impunity and tackle corrupt behaviour and fraud,” the King announced.

According to the March 2007 decree, the new body will be responsible for oversight and information-gathering regarding corruption and co-ordinate anti-corruption policy. Made up of representatives of various ministerial departments and organisations, the authority will be accountable to the prime minister.

Although it has been hailed by numerous politicians and civil society figures, some have criticised the body’s lack of independence from the government.

Transparency Maroc Secretary-General Rachid Filali Meknassi told Magharebia that it is now essential to establish the body so that the endemic phenomenon of corruption can be addressed. He also commented that the King’s announcement sends out a clear political message to the government that it should now lend its weight to these efforts.

Meknassi noted that the authority will have a purely consultative role: “Its purpose is not to initiate legal proceedings or launch inquiries.”

“I hope the authority will be not just a forum for discussion, but rather a body capable of coming up with concrete solutions,” he added. The president of the Committee for Justice and Legislation within the lower house of parliament said that the body’s affiliation with the prime minister’s office will prevent it from carrying out its mission effectively. “It is imperative that this authority be independent so that it can look into all cases of corruption, no matter how sensitive,” Mohamed Ansari commented.

Deputy and lawyer Fatima Mustaghfir told Magharebia that unless the efforts of all players within society are consolidated, the new authority will not be able to combat the growing phenomenon of corruption in Moroccan culture. “We need to have a large-scale media campaign to change people’s attitudes and raise their awareness of the dangers of corruption. The King’s announcement that the authority is to be created is a sign of the scale of the phenomenon. All national institutions must unite to put an end to this problem,” she said.

Morocco still languishes near the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Its position improved slightly in 2007 from 79th to 72nd of the 179 countries studied by the NGO.