Press Statement from Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
International Anti-Corruption Day – December 9, 2021
International Anti-corruption Day is an annual opportunity to bring attention to the continued importance of combating corruption, ensuring accountability, and fostering transparency. Around the world, corruption threatens security, hinders economic growth, and siphons away public and private resources.
As this statement is published, President Biden is hosting a virtual Summit for Democracy, at which President Ali has confirmed his attendance. The United States is asking participating governments to announce meaningful commitments and initiatives, and to engage with civil society and the private and philanthropic sectors, since they play a critical role in supporting democracy, fighting corruption, and protecting human rights.
In Guyana, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has focused on training and mentoring those in the criminal justice sector to build their capacity to fight corruption. In 2018, the Guyana Public Service Commission was reconstituted after a 13-year hiatus. This was a step towards ensuring fairness and transparency in the public service system. The GoG also passed the Protected Disclosures (Whistleblower) Act in 2018, which seeks to protect persons making disclosures from retribution from others, including within the public service. These kinds of legislative reforms are necessary parts of a successful plan to fight corruption.
In the United States, politicians and corporations alike know there are consequences ranging from jail time to hefty fines if they engage in corrupt activities or violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Our engagement through multilateral bodies, including the region’s main anticorruption body – the OAS’ Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption – helps build strong international anti-corruption standards and ensures countries stay true to their obligations around transparency, accountability, and integrity.
Governments and institutions around the globe cannot allow corruption to flourish. Constructing a legislative framework that deters corrupt practices and promotes transparency is an essential step in addressing corruption. Enhancing the capabilities of criminal justice institutions to investigate and prosecute corruption is also crucial to exposing malign influence. Government operations should be transparent such that citizens and the media can provide oversight and hold officials accountable. In addition, procurement processes that comply with international anti-corruption standards will ensure a level playing field for investors. Private sector actors must also answer for any role that they play in corrupt practices, and when choosing private sector partners it is advisable to choose the reputable over the most convenient. Most importantly, a robust civil society and free press are critical to holding leaders responsible for their actions.
We continue to look forward to the government’s initiatives to combat corruption, including Natural Resource Fund legislation that offers both transparency and clear oversight, and to a meaningful and inclusive process of stakeholder engagement. A strong anti-corruption stance now will show Guyanese citizens, and the rest of the world, that the government is committed to transparent institutions that utilize the country’s resources to the long-term benefit for all Guyanese.