From the Editor’s Keyboard

The Need for Anti-Corruption Courts in Africa

By  | 26 June 2013 at 02:47 | 1246 views

There are very few anti-corruption courts in Africa. These are courts that are set up to deal with the numerous corruption cases; cases in Africa and other parts of the developing world that get stuck in the traditional or normal courts for reasons that are not hard to fathom: most of the elites including judicial personnel in those parts of the world are complicit or involved in corruption themselves.

For example in Indonesia some parliamentarians and other interested parties actually called for the closing down of anti-corruption courts, even though these courts are prosecuting and jailing corrupt individuals! It just shows how corruption has so permeated that society that even parliamentarians can risk their reputation by openly condoning it in their utterances. I can see such a thing happening in most African countries.

Among African countries, Uganda is one the few with an Ant-Corruption court. Even though corruption is still very high in that country, at least the governing class is doing something to reduce it as evidenced in the recent conviction of a very senior government official. We need this kind of exercise in all African countries because most of our normal judiciaries can no longer do the job; too much money and too many powerful people are involved. What is needed in such a situation is a special anti-corruption court or courts manned by fearless and morally superior judges who are never afraid to do their job even if the heavens fall.

In Croatia they have such courts with brave and respected judges, well paid and independent. One of the causes of inefficient judiciaries in Africa is the ridiculous salary structures. Many of these judges receive a salary of roughly 1000 United States Dollars or less; it is therefore extremely difficult for some of them to resist a USD20,000 (or more) bribe from a a corrupt individual charged to court.

I do not personally think that corruption can be totally eliminated in any country in the world, even in the rich and developed countries; what differentiates such countries from African countries however is that once caught, corrupt individuals are appropriately punished according to the laws of the land. It’s usually repayment of the money stolen and jail time. African countries, in most cases have similar laws but such laws are almost never fully implemented or not implemented at all.

That is sad because without strict and fearless anti-corruption courts and the will to implement the law, true national development will continue to evade African countries.