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Monrovia, Tuesday, January 30, 2024, In its 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Transparency International (TI), a global coalition against corruption, reported that Liberia has declined by 7 points from 32 in 2018 to 25 in 2023. The Corruption Perception Index scores and ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived, according to experts and business executives. The score ranges from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), where 0 equals the highest level of perceived public sector corruption and 100 equals the lowest level of perceived public sector corruption. 180 Countries were targeted in 2023 as in 2022.

In a statement issued in Monrovia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), the National Chapter of Transparency International through its Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen said it is deeply concerned over Liberia’s consistently poor performance, especially her place among the Worst Decliners globally.

CENTAL’s statement said, the poor performance speaks to the Liberian Government’s inability to address the entrenched culture of impunity for corruption, despite enacting new anti-corruption laws and amending existing ones to make them stronger. The anti-corruption watchdog group cited the lack of investigation and prosecution of current and former government officials sanctioned by the US Government for corruption as some of the reasons behind the country’s decline. Additionally, the statement said the weak enforcement of anti-corruption laws and limited financial support to public integrity institutions such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and Public Procurement and Concession Commission have contributed to the decline.

“This year’s poor result shows the scale of the problem the Boakai-led administration is inheriting. On the other hand, it is a test of his anti-corruption credentials--whether bold commitments being made will be matched by visible concrete actions to end impunity for corruption, reverse the decline, and take Liberia up the CPI ladder”, the statement said.

The CPI draws upon 13 data sources, which capture the assessment of experts and business executives on several corrupt behaviors in the public sector. These corrupt practices and behaviors include bribery, diversion of public funds and supplies, use of public office for private gain, procurement irregularities, state capture, and nepotism in the civil service.

Also, some of the sources assess mechanisms available to prevent and address corruption in a country. Examples include the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms; financial, logistical, and moral support to anti-graft institutions; independence and viability of anti-graft institutions; the effective prosecution of corrupt officials and others accused of corruption; conflict of interest prevention; access to information; freedom of speech and the media; and legal protection for whistleblowers, witnesses, journalists, and investigators.

Ranked 145/180 among countries covered by CPI 2023, Liberia's position as one of the biggest decliners on the CPI has been cemented dropping by a massive 16 points from 41 in 2012 to 25 in 2023.  In West Africa and the Mano River Union, Liberia is the only country that has declined by 7 points over the last 6 years. This is corroborated by CENTAL’s 2021, 2022, and 2023 State of Corruption Reports, which reveal that 90% of Liberians think the Corruption level is high in the country, with low citizens’ confidence in the executive branch of government to fight against corruption.

The Sub-Saharan Africa average is 33, the lowest in the world. Ninety percent of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa scored under 50. In the last decade, 43 countries in the region have either declined or made no significant progress.  Since 2012, Liberia (25), Mali (28), and South Sudan (11) have significantly declined on the CPI. On the other hand, some significant improvers over the last few years include Seychelles (71), Senegal (43), Ethiopia (37), Tanzania (40), Kenya (31), Côte d'Ivoire (40) and Angola (33).  With a score of 71, the Seychelles earned the highest mark in the region, followed by Cape Verde (64) and Botswana (59) as second and third-place holders. Equatorial Guinea (17), South Sudan (13), and Somalia (11) are the region’s worst performers.

January 26, 2024

 

His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai

26th President of the Republic of Liberia

Liberia, West Africa

 

Your Excellency:

 Re: Key Anti-Corruption Efforts and Reforms to Pursue 

 

Kindly accept compliments from the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), the national chapter of Transparency International (TI). We congratulate you on your ascendency as 26th President of the Republic of Liberia. 

Your Excellency, we wish you good health and wisdom, as you lead during this critical period of the Country’s history, whereby, despite appreciable progress, enormous governance and development challenges, amongst others, remain. While we are cognizant of the need for collective efforts of all players to move the country forward, as President and first citizen, we believe you need to provide very strong leadership by leading by example, adhering to the rule of law, setting high standards, and requiring the same of your officials and all others in the Liberian Society. 

Mr. President, we welcome your bold public utterances and commitment to tackle corruption, one of the country’s major challenges. At the same time, we look forward to working with your administration to achieve this very important objective, which aligns with the vision and mission of CENTAL. Corruption remains a major governance challenge in Liberia, despite ongoing efforts to address it. Much more efforts are needed, with your office providing the necessary leadership at the top, exhibiting zero-tolerance for corruption and demanding your officials to do likewise through the required lawful administrative and prosecutorial actions. 

Mr. President, we need actions that go beyond pronouncements. Leaders before you recognized that corruption is a plague and made several declarations against it. Yet, they did little to match those pronouncements with actions. This inertia has largely contributed to our dismal show in major indices, including the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International, showing a massive decline in the country’s score from 41 in 2012 to 25 in 2023.  This is corroborated by our State of Corruption Reports, which indicate that, over the last three years, nine out of ten Liberians believe that corruption is high. Majority of citizens also believe that government’s commitment to tackling corruption is low. Lack of prosecution, rampant allegations of corruption, lack of political will and lack of transparency fuel these perceptions. For instance, government has failed to investigate and prosecute former and current government officials sanctioned by the United States Government for involvement in significant public sector corruption. Besides, corruption allegations involving high-profile public officials have been lingering for many years, with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission not doing enough to either complete those investigations or prosecute the accused. 

Mr. President, the responsibility is now yours to reverse this negative trend. This is because you have made very strong commitments to do so, during the election and recently, while delivering your inaugural address in Monrovia. There are already signs that the necessary conditions exist to support a robust anti-corruption effort. For instance, we have seen members of the House of Representatives voting through a resolution to declare and make their assets public—the publication goes one significant step beyond the declaration requirement. We have heard President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Madam Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence committing to declare and make her assets public within a month. We have heard the Speaker of the House, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa's open commitment to subject the House of Representatives to audit.  We appreciate the open commitment of our elected officials to respect the tenant of good governance and accountability. While we believe these actions are steps in the right direction, we expect that members of the legislature will not rest on their laurels, but do more to make legislative dealings and activities more transparent. 

Like all previous governments, we look forward to working with your administration to enhance the fight against corruption, especially by making impunity for corruption an issue of the past. We wish to recommend the following, which are important actions your administration can take, working collaboratively with other actors, to robustly tackle corruption and bad governance in Liberia:

  • Lead by example and set very high standards for your officials and others to follow ---There can be no successful fight against corruption if the Presidency does not lead by example, in words and in practice. Immediate past presidents made flowery speeches about fighting corruption. However, they could not follow them up by the required practical actions, such as timely declaring and publishing their assets, incomes and liabilities and taking timely and decisive administrative actions against officials accused of corruption. The office of the President, Vice President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, President Pro-Tempore, and Chief Justice must take the first steps by fully complying with the law and requiring all other public officials to do so. Over the years, compliance with the law has been grossly weak and disappointing. Weakness in making full use of assets declared by public officials has rendered the process nearly meaningless. Besides, the declaration process has not been holistic, as the vast majority of senators and representatives have not been compliant with the law.We encourage you to lead by example by providing the necessary financial, moral, and logistical support to LACC to fully implement the law, covering all branches of the Liberian Government.

 

  • Support public integrity institutions- If your administration must succeed in the fight against corruption, anti- graft institutions must not be left to fight alone. Your strong leadership and moral and financial support will be critical to help them succeed in pursuing their objectives. In time past, integrity institutions with specific mandates around anti-corruption have been undermined with matters falling in their domain referred to ad-hoc committees or other authorities. Sadly, said investigations lead to little or no outcome. Recognizing and supporting institutions with specific mandates would be key. To this end, we encourage you to reconsider your decision to outsource audit functions to international firms. Resources have been invested in the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and Internal Audit Agency (IAA) over the years. Any perceived gaps should be assessed and addressed, including through support by international firms. But ignoring these institutions outrightly serves to interfere with their mandates and continues the pattern of undermining began by your predecessors. We must add that these same institutions have been commissioned by donors to audit projects they fund. Assuming they lacked the capacity and professionalism required, we are convinced that international partners would not leverage their expertise. Also, budgetary support to these institutions have been less than adequate. In many instances, salaries and administrative costs comprise the lion’s share of their budgets, with minimal amounts left for operations and programs. Additionally, Reports and recommendations from these institutions should be taken seriously, to send a very strong message to corrupt and would-be individuals and groups that corruption will no longer be tolerated in Liberia, especially in government and under your leadership. Having strong anti-graft institutions requires adequate moral, operational, and capacity support, which we encourage your administration to provide.

 

  • Timely establish the office of Ombudsman to oversee implementation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials – Passed in 2014 and amended in 2022, the Code of Conduct for Public Officials sets standards for what public officials and servants should do and not do. Due to the lack of political will, the Ombudsman has not been made functional. This has undermined enforcement of the law. For example, in April 2022, based on jurisdictional reasons, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court at the Temple of Justice or Criminal “C” dismissed the indictment against National Elections Commission Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, citing lack of jurisdiction. The Court opined that the LACC lacked the legal capacity to take unto itself the function of the Ombudsman in assuming original jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of the Code of Conduct. The case would have been different, had the Ombudsman been appointed and staffed. Also, the absence of the Ombudsman has led to widespread abuses of public office during elections. As this void has been lingering for many years, we call on your administration to fully constitute and support the body to effectively and efficiently perform.

 

  • Timely and impartial investigation and prosecution of corruption complaints/cases –Impunity for corruption remains very high in Liberia, thus undermining the fight against corruption. Credit to the Weah-led administration for passing additional anti-corruption laws such the ones on Witness Protection, Whistleblowing, and giving of direct prosecutorial power to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission. However, the laws have not been scrupulously enforced for the good of the public. Many corruption cases involving high-profile former government officials are lingering, without adequate action (s). We call on your administration to follow through on your promise to make impunity for corruption an issue of the past. Encourage zero tolerance for corruption by fully supporting the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and other anti-graft agencies to fully and independently implement their mandates.  Besides, where necessary, suspend and dismiss officials of government accused of grave incidences of corruption, to send a very strong message/signal to others wanting to do likewise.  

 

  • Investigate and prosecute former government officials sanctioned for Corruption – Over the last six years, the United States Government, under the Global Manitsky Act, sanctioned several government officials for corruption that undermined public interest. Of the 7 officials, only Andrew Wonploe, the former Passport Director, was taken to court. However, the government failed to pursue the case, leaving the court with no option but to drop the case. The lack of action from the government led to some of the sanctioned officials participating in and winning seats in the just-ended elections, mainly senatorial seats in Margibi, Nimba, and Rivercess Counties respectively. We strongly encourage your government to seek the support of the U.S. Government to investigate and where necessary prosecute those concerned, to bring closure to these matters. Furthermore, we ask your administration to take seriously and act on any allegations of corruption against your officials, including those emanating from citizens, civil society, media, and major development partners such as the U.S. Government. 

 

  •  Prevent and Address Budget Corruption –The national budget is the primary tool for development, as it is that which the government uses to match its promises with reality, in terms of what is funded and to what degree. Hence, the integrity of the budget process is extremely important, as it will give hope to citizens and ensure that their taxes and other resources are being wisely allocated, expended, and accounted for. However, this has not always been the case, as the budget has been manipulated by actors in the executive and legislature to the detriment of the state. A classic example is when lawmakers orchestrate the inclusion of budget items, which often do not reach the target beneficiaries or institutions, but get diverted, following passage of the budget. Other key players include their private facilities in the budget for direct support, a conflict of interest that hurts the country. We call on your administration to work with the legislature to avert this situation. The national budget must work for all and not few persons in privileged positions, especially the lawmakers and agents of the executive associated with the budget process. Strong leadership from your office will be extremely important in robustly dealing with this situation, Mr. President. 

 

  • There should be no room for sacred cows in your administration --- Too often, individuals have abused their proximity to the Presidency to disadvantage their colleagues and other citizens, in part through engaging into wide-scale corruption. Often than not, the perpetrators go with impunity, because of limited political will and poor decision-making by the Presidency. Your administration should not shield any individual accused of wrong doing (s), especially those perceived to be among your “kitchen cabinet”. This is where Liberians and development partners will see your true leadership and determination to tackle corruption. Your stance against members of your inner circle accused of corruption and misdealing will tell if your promised fight against corruption is genuine or not. 

 

  • Strengthen partnership with civil society and the media in fighting corruption and other issues--- Most times, the work of civil society and the media is misconstrued. While there are bad apples among these institutions, the majority work to seek public interest and the good of the country. We encourage your administration to forge strong and mutually-beneficial partnerships with civil society and the media to fight against corruption and promote the culture of accountability, transparency, and integrity in Liberia, especially in Government. The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia welcomes your promise to work with civil society and the media. We commit to playing our required independent research, capacity building, policy advocacy, and other relevant roles, in this regard. 

 

  • Audit all branches of government and Implement Audit Reports and Recommendations from the General Auditing Commission—We note with grave concern the very limited action on or utilization of audit reports to hold individuals accountable for their misdeeds. This has seriously affected the morale and work of the General Auditing Commission. Over the last few years, the number of audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission has significantly increased. However, these reports are still not fully utilized to hold those accountable for their actions against the state and the public. Further, there is no record that the Legislature has been audited, especially in the post-war era. We also have not seen audit reports affecting the Judiciary. The law requires audit of all institutions receiving public funds and these branches of government should not be exempted. Further, as these branches play a key role in holding officials accountable for corruption, it is important that they take the lead by being regularly audited. Also, we encourage more actions on reports produced by anti-graft and integrity institutions, as they are foundations for serious accountability and transparency-related decisions and efforts. The more audits and other reports are used to hold people accountable, the more motivated the Commission and other institutions become to perform or deliver on their mandates. 

 

We conclude by reemphasizing the importance of the Presidency to provide true leadership in the fight against corruption and bad governance in Liberia. Once the top leads by example, the message is bound to filter down to your appointed officials and those elected. CENTAL recommits to maintaining her stance against corruption and bad governance in Liberia.  With the support of Transparency International, our donors, citizens, and partners with whom we work, we promise to remain robust, constructive, and engaging, in supporting well-meaning efforts to tackle corruption and other governance challenges in Liberia. 

 

Kind regards.

 

Sincerely,

 

Anderson D. Miamen

Executive Director

Sunday, 17 December 2023 08:47

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

CENTAL Challenges LACC to follow US’ Example

Calls for Prompt and Credible Actions to Investigate and Prosecute All Sanctioned/Designated Liberian Government Officials

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia is deeply concerned about the alleged involvement of an additional four (4) high-profile Liberian Government officials in corruption and human rights abuses, against their mandates and the trust and confidence reposed in them to diligently and dutifully serve the country.  CENTAL wholeheartedly welcomes the courage and latest actions of the U.S. Government to impose sanctions on additional Liberian officials believed to have abused their offices by stealing from poor Liberians and engaging in human rights violations. We appreciate the visibly strong commitment of the Americans and other development partners to support efforts to defend democracy and fight against corruption and other crimes and abuses in the country. Therefore, we call on the US Government and other development partners to continuously take strong and decisive actions against public officials and other individuals believed to have abused human rights, engaged in corruption, and undermined the country’s democracy.

Meanwhile, in line with the due process of law, we call on the Liberian Government, through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and other relevant state institutions, to seek the support of the US Government to timely investigate and credibly prosecute current and previous government officials sanctioned/designated by the US Government. In part, this is important to ensure that those culpable for the allegations levied against them are made to fully account for their unscrupulous behaviors. It would be unfortunate that our partners are exerting efforts to deal with corruption while we who experience the devastating effects of corruption sit supinely and refuse to act meaningfully. It is, therefore, high time that the LACC grabs the baton and takes this process forward. We conclude by calling on all well-meaning Liberians to join efforts to demand the Liberian Government to timely and credibly prosecute persons accused of corruption in the country.

It can be recalled that on Monday, December 11, 2023, under Executive Order 13818, the Treasury Department of the United States of America designated Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), and Senators Albert Chie and J. Emmanuel Nuquay for their alleged involvement in corruption in Liberia. The three (3) designated high-ranking Liberian Government officials are accused of soliciting, accepting, and offering bribes to manipulate legislative processes and public funding, including activities in the mining sector. Earlier, on December 8, 2023, the US Government similarly designated Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson T. Koijee for his alleged involvement in human rights violations and corruption. Mayor Koijee allegedly has engaged in corrupt acts, including bribery and misappropriation of state assets for private political movements. Additionally, he is accused of controlling paramilitary organizations allegedly comprised of former combatants and recently releasing prisoners who are believed to have violently disrupted government critics’ demonstrations and opposition activities.

According to the United States Department of State, the sanctions underscore the United States’ commitment to holding accountable those involved in corrupt practices and human rights abuses globally. The US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet L. Yellen said the sanctions reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to promoting respect for human rights and holding perpetrators accountable.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

0886818855/0776391481

Joint Press Statement

By Civil Society Organizations on the November 14, 2023 Runoff Election

 Monday, November 20, 2023

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the press, fellow Liberians. A very warm welcome to our joint press conference on the state of Liberia’s democracy and the outcome of the November 14 presidential runoff election. This Press Conference is organized by the following civil society organizations: The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH), Accountability Lab Liberia (Alab), Naymote Partners for Democratic Development, Public Health Initiative Liberia (PHIL), Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), and Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL).

Liberia has made remarkable peace gains after 20 years since the conflict ended in 2003. The election of President-elect, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai from the November 14 runoff election marks an important milestone in terms of a peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another. We applaud all those who played important roles during the process, including citizens who exercised their rights to vote for various elect leaders of their choice.

As civil society organizations and leaders, we wish to congratulate Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai for his election as President from the November 14, 2023, Presidential Runoff Election, having obtained 814,428 (50.64%) of the total valid votes counted by the National Elections Commission as of November 18, 2023, with only 0.017% remaining nationwide.

Fellow Liberians and partners, with great joy, we wish to commend the President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah for honoring his commitment to Liberians and the world to conduct free, fair, transparent, and credible elections. This joy stems from individual and collective efforts and the resolve of Liberians to uphold and nurture their nascent democracy. As civil society organizations and leaders, we welcome President Weah’s concession speech, in which he said, “The CDC has lost the election, but Liberia has won. This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest. Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as one nation and one united people.”

We wholeheartedly applaud President Weah for not only doing so but courageously conceding defeat by congratulating the winner (Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai), prior to the announcement of the final results by the National Elections Commission. This singular act is a show of strong will and commitment to preserving and strengthening Liberia’s peace and democracy, the latter of which is notably maturing. This solidifies Liberia’s position as one of the torchbearers and enablers of democracy in Africa, in the wake of coup d’états in many countries due to the extension of presidential terms and election manipulation by a number of African presidents. To President Weah, thank you for allowing the will of the Liberian people to prevail, likely amidst intense pressure from some of your supporters and confidantes to do otherwise. We hope that this great legacy will be built upon by successful presidents, especially your successor. 

Again, Liberia has made history and endeared herself to the world by being one of the leaders of democracy in Africa, especially by holding credible elections and seeing the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Considering the multiple bad examples in Africa, especially within the West Africa sub-region, this is highly commendable. We are proud of the collaborative efforts of government, NEC, civil society, the media, citizens, and other stakeholders that made this possible. We applaud our international partners for providing financial, technical, moral, and other support that significantly impacted the process, a final outcome of which we are so proud today.

Members of the media, we recognize the divisions currently existing within the Liberian political system due to heated campaigns that saw brothers, sisters, friends, professional colleagues, families, and others going against each other. We also note the cyber bullying currently unfolding on social media after the concession and therefore call all Liberians to put peace and reconciliation at the center of their agendas.  However, while we encourage post-election peace and reconciliation, we are in no way calling for the abandonment of the need for true accountability for past actions, decisions taken, and any crimes committed. Genuine peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved in the absence of the rule of law and full accountability.

 

Recommendations:

We conclude by making the following recommendations to the outgoing and incoming Governments:

  1. Collaborate and implement a very transparent, robust transition, and an inclusive process. Among other things, all government properties, assets, and finances must be identified and documented with clear reports produced and disseminated to the public. This is important to avoid the mistakes of the past, including claims and counterclaims that the CDC-led government took over a very broken economy. 
  1. Comprehensively audit the outgoing administration and prosecute those who will be identified to have abused public resources and assets. In line with due process of law, we call for an objective, thorough, and inclusive process that ensures that any public resources and corrupted assets are identified, retrieved, and used for the benefit of the public/population.  We strongly recommend that the process be extended to then/previous Unity Party-led administration (2006 to 2017) during which some officials abused public trust and resources, for which they need to be held equally accountable.
  1. Finally, ensure accountability for gender equality to make up for the limited women's representation in the Legislature.

Conclusion

Civil society remains a critical partner in strengthening Liberia’s democracy and accountability cultures. We commit to be steadfast, robust, and objectively critical in engaging with the current and incoming administrations to hold them accountable for their commitments and core mandates. If anyone thinks that CSOs will change gears and lower their standards, they are grossly mistaken.  We will continue to hold every administration to a very high standard, this new administration being no exception. We will continue to demand that public officials are more accountable to the people and that government dealings are transparent so as to weed out the menace of corruption which has destroyed the fabric of our nation for many years.

Thank you.

Signed:

______________________________________________________________

Anderson D. Miamen, (Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia)

______________________________________________

 Naomi Tulay-Solanke, (Community Healthcare Initiative)

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________

Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah, (Organization for Women and Children)

____________________________________

Harold Marvin Aidoo, (Integrity Watch Liberia)

_____________________________________

Lawrence Yealue, (Accountability Lab Liberia)

_______________________________________

Joyce Kilikpo, (Public Health Initiative of Liberia)

______________________________________________

Eddie Jarwolo ( Naymote Partners for Democratic Development)

Friday, 10 November 2023 17:45

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Press Statement for Immediate Release

CENTAL Commends National Government for Passing Fiscal Year 2024 MCC Score Card, Calls for Greater Actions to Address Impunity for Corruption_Monrovia, Friday, November 10, 2023

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians. Thank you for supporting our work; we warmly appreciate the partnership.

On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) released its fiscal year (FY) 2024 country scorecards. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. The Scorecards consist of a collection of 20 independent, third-party indicators that measure a country’s policy performance in the areas of economic freedom, ruling justly, and investing in people. Also, the scorecards are a key component in MCC’s competitive country selection process that determines which countries are eligible to develop a five-year grant agreement, known as a compact, especially in FY 2024.

Accordingly, of the 80 country scorecards created by MCC for Fiscal Year 2024, 25 countries passed (Liberia included), while 55 countries failed. The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) applauds the Liberian Government for passing 14 (70%) of the 20 indicators covered by the scorecard. We are glad about the progress made in different areas, including but not limited to controlling corruption, fiscal policy, and employment opportunities. It is particularly pleasing to note that, overall, Liberia outperformed her immediate neighbors and Mano River Union counterparts. The Country passed 14 out of the 20 indicators (70%), compared to 11 out of 20 (55%) for Ivory Coast; 10 out of 20 (50%) for Sierra Leone; and 6 out of 20 (30%) for Guinea respectively.

While we acknowledge this feat, significant efforts are still needed, especially regarding the Controlling Corruption indicator directly linked to the country’s fight against Corruption. The improvement in the controlling corruption indicator, from 54% in 2023 to 59% in 2024 is well-noted. However, we would like to stress the need for more efforts in addressing the culture of impunity. Just as the need to address impunity existed in 2012, when Liberia obtained her second-highest controlling corruption score of 78% and the biggest score of 41/100 on the corruption perception index of Transparency International, the issue still persists today.

Despite always passing this indicator, with the maiden 2008 edition being the only exemption when Liberia obtained a 45% failing mark, the country is still faced with the challenge of robustly enforcing its anti-corruption laws and policies. Also, ending impunity for corruption remains a major hurdle, especially in cases and issues involving high-profile public officials and other individuals.  The US Government recognizes this fact, evidenced by sanctions it has imposed on Senator Prince Y. Johnson, Senator Varney Sherman, and other former senior public officials for significant corruption. These persons are yet to be investigated and prosecuted by the Liberian Government. Further, multiple past and current audit reports released by the General Auditing Commission(GAC) are still lingering, despite implicating several individuals and requiring administrative and other concrete actions. Therefore, we urge the government to intensify anti-corruption efforts and not remain complacent due to its performance on the scorecard. As stated earlier, while Liberia has nearly always passed the Control of Corruption indicator, seemingly due to improvements in the anti-corruption policy framework, corruption remains a challenge due to a lack of political will and poor implementation of laws.

Recommendations:

Once again, CENTAL welcomes the progress made and lauds the Liberian Government for the said improvement. However, we call for greater actions from the national government to ensure that the passage is not only on paper but translates into tangible results and improvements in the quality of life/living conditions of the people. We call for continuous efforts to improve indicators with passing scores, such as Controlling Corruption where impunity for corruption remains high, despite the country's very good anti-corruption laws and policies. Also, we encourage the Government to pay keen attention to areas in which it failed, including regulatory quality, government effectiveness, girls’ primary education completion rate, education expenditure, natural resource protection, and child health. Finally, we call for greater support and partnership from development partners, civil society, the media, and other stakeholders to help the national government sustain and significantly improve upon the gains made.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen

Executive Director

0886818855/0776391481

Saturday, 04 November 2023 07:29

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Electing Sanctioned Individuals, a Bad Signal: CENTAL Frowns on Citizens’ Action and Calls on LACC to Timely Investigate and Prosecute Those Concerned

Monrovia, Friday, November 3, 2023

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media, fellow Liberians, and development partners. We would like to begin by appreciating the National Elections Commission for conducting a largely free, fair, and transparent process, despite some pockets of issues identified. We call for greater fairness, transparency, and freeness during the remaining periods of the election.

Most of all, we like to appreciate all Liberians who queued up on October 10, 2023, to exercise their democratic rights of voting for the leaders of their choice. The turnout of about 78%, as announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC) is particularly pleasing. In part, it signifies that Liberians have increased faith in the democratic process. We hail the exuberance exhibited by voters, some of whom trekked for hours in remote areas to cast their ballots. This is a demonstration of the belief of voters in the fact that elections remain the ultimate trump card to change the course of their futures.

During the period of the election, we at CENTAL developed a “Reference Guide” to help voters to make informed choices during the election. Amongst other things, we warned against voting people with questionable track records, particularly those sanctioned by the US government for significant corruption in government that undermine public interest and the country’s democracy. However, the results from the polls have shown otherwise. Three of the four newly sanctioned officials who contested were elected. While we are appalled by this decision, we will continue to engage with our fellow citizens about their roles in tackling corruption and holding officials accountable. We must also hasten to note that the government’s failure to engage the United States Government for evidence to aid in prosecution of sanctioned officials has made it possible that allegedly corrupt officials access state power, without having their days in court.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, On October 24, 2023, during a congressional hearing to confirm his nomination as the new US Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Mark Toner promised a firm position on corruption, accountability, and the rule of law when he shall have taken the helm of the US Mission in Liberia. He also expressed the commitment to continue the partnership between the United States government and her Liberian partners to help strengthen democracy and secure a brighter and more prosperous future for the next generation. His statement of commitment is similar to that made by his predecessor, Ambassador Michael McCarthy under whose administration several senior Liberian government officials were designated for corruption by the United States Department of Treasury, under the Global Magnitsky Act.

We are pleased by the anti-corruption commitments from the tipped US envoy and encourage him to do more to bring sanctioned and other allegedly corrupt officials to justice. Corruption remains the greatest threat to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in Liberia. We cannot afford to provide adequate drugs to our medical facilities when there are loopholes in the system being exploited by corrupt and unscrupulous politicians and other individuals. We cannot have quality teachers and students learning in a conducive environment in public schools across the country, when there are officials who use the national budget to channel public funds to their private businesses/facilities and those of their families and friends. These are just a few reasons why we will applaud any commitments to tackle corruption in Liberia, especially those from partners as critical as the United States Government.

Recommendations:

In conclusion, we wish to make the following recommendations:

  • We call on the new leadership of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to break the culture of impunity for corruption in Liberia by engaging the United States Government for evidence to aid prosecution of elected sanctioned officials and others accused for corruption and the abuse of public trust and resources. This is one of the initial biggest tests of the new LACC, as Liberians and development partners are eagerly watching to see the Commission’s stance on this matter.
  • We applaud our international and development partners for standing by Liberia and Liberians in promoting the culture of accountability and transparency in the country. We call for greater collaboration and partnership, including support for LACC, civil society, the media, and other stakeholders playing key roles in the fight against corruption and bad governance in the country.
  • We reiterate call for the Government of Liberia to provide adequate financial and logistical support to public integrity institutions, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission that is leading the fight against corruption in the country. National government should muster the required political will to adequately support LACC to operate at full capacity.
  • Finally, whilst we commend Liberians for the show on October 10, 2023, we would like to remind them that the job is not over yet. As a runoff election is slated for November 14, 2023, we encourage citizens to resoundingly come out to repeat the huge turnout on October 10. The bulk did not stop on October 10. It continues up to November 14 and ends when the final results are announced. Don’t’ let others decide for you. Be at the center of the decision-making process by showing up on October 14 to complete the task.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen

Executive Director

0886818855/0776391481

LACC Joins CENTAL to Increase Knowledge Around Laws and Reporting Mechanisms in Nimba _By Edward Blamo

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL)  have joined forces in engaging citizens around key components of the country’s anti-corruption framework. The effort proved helpful as citizens had the opportunity to directly engage with the LACC over concerns they have harbored. On October 6, 2023, a forum was held in Sanniquellie, Nimba County bringing together over 50 participants.

Gerald

“We are here to talk about corruption. But most importantly, we are here to talk about the new ‘TALKAY’ platform and its effectiveness”, said Atty. Gerald D. Yeakula, Program Manager of CENTAL, gave an overview at the forum. The first two sessions of the day focused on the TALKAY platform for reporting corruption. Developed with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the mobile application called ‘TALKAY’ provides the public the platform to report corruption allegations from anywhere without disclosing their identities. The strategy allows the use of the mobile app and website to file complaints of corruption by attaching multiple files (video, audio, document, with an option to remain anonymous or not.

Lincoln 2023

Lincoln J. Monbo of the Liberia Anti–Corruption Commission (LACC) informed participants that, so far, about 136 cases have been received through the TALKAY platform. Of these cases, he noted, bribery and molestation accounted for 49 and 30 respectively. He assured participants that the cases will be investigated. He encouraged the participants to report through the platform. All reports submitted using either the web app, mobile app, or SMS, he said will go to large-screen dashboards at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in real-time. The LACC then investigates the report and takes appropriate action. Once actions are taken, the system updates based on the action taken, and those filling reports can track the status of their report using their unique ID numbers issued when they submit their reports.

For his part, Cllr. Jerry D. K Garlawolo, LACC’s Chief Prosecutor, used the forum to give citizens insight into the new LACC law and how it will help the fight against corruption. “Now the investigators have police power. We can now go to court without the Ministry of Justice as was done in the past”, he stressed. Many believe that introducing this strategy is significant, especially when Liberia has reached its all-time low on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, scoring 26 out of 100. 

Sharing experiences with corruption,  Jerry Myers, a member of the joint security explained a scenario where ‘arrest fees’ requested by a police officer at the station in Sanniquellie was refunded to the victim following his intervention. For her part, student Luise Tweh explained that a teacher in her school intentionally removed her name from those to sit the West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) because he did not favor her. But when she engaged the school authority and the District Education Officer (DEO), the issue was resolved and her name was returned to the roster. “Corruption impedes development”, Rev. Joe G. Wallace, a prominent clergyman reckons. To back his assertion, he referenced a book in the bible specifically Exodus Chapter 20 verses 15 which he said spoke strongly against corruption.

Meanwhile, Nelson Yador, a prominent Civil Society (CSO) actor in Nimba was quick to commend CENTAL for its efforts in fighting corruption in the county over the years. “CENTAL is always here to teach us about ways to fight corruption. And we are extremely grateful to you”, he stated.  

Like many other counties, Nimba, still reeling from a fourteen-year civil war that ended in 2003, still faces the challenge of social exclusion, poverty, and underdevelopment, all of which are byproducts of corruption and bad governance. About 90 percent of people surveyed in the 2022 State of Corruption Report released by CENTAL, think that the level of corruption in Liberia is high. But despite these, a new strategy to utilize the use of technology to nip the scourge of corruption in the bud is gaining steam in Nimba County. 

In Bomi County, Citizens Encouraged To Utilize New Mobile App To Report Corruption  

By: Mark W. Boahndao

In the ongoing battle against corruption, a significant roadblock that often hinders progress is the pervasive fear of retaliation. In some instances, whistleblowers, some of whom are public servants, who dare to expose corrupt practices often find themselves in precarious situations threatening their livelihood and safety. This culture of fear undermines the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts in multiple ways—silencing the whistleblower, impeding transparency, et cetera.

To reduce the risk of exposure for whistleblowers and improve citizens' confidence to report corruption without revealing their identities, the Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative project is encouraging citizens to make use of a mobile application ‘TALKAY’ developed to report corruption. To implement the project, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is working in partnership with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Integrity Watch Liberia, and Accountability Lab Liberia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

On the 29th of September 2023, the one-day dialogue held at the multipurpose building in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, citizens were not only introduced to the app, including issues arising therefrom but were provided insights into the anti-corruption laws as well as an election reference guide developed by CENTAL.

IMG 3150 Small“Corruption is difficult to report. When we report happenings of corruption, limited action is taken. In the end, we will remain the victim of it. How can we report?” – Miatta A. Kanneh, a marketer pointed out stoutly. Thankfully, the LACC graced the occasion and afforded citizens the express burning concerns. Making a presentation, Cllr. Jerry D.K. Garlawolu, Chief Prosecutor of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) succinctly explained the mandate and functions of the LACC as a lead anti-graft institution in Liberia. He further emphasized the relevance and advantages of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Acts. His presentation opened the minds of the participants to the workings of LACC and the different laws that exist to discourage them from hiding acts of corruption when it is visible.

IMG 3229 Small“We will try to report, but actions must be taken to serve as a deterrent for people who want to get involved with corruption” – Saamo Peters, a member of the disabled community. Continuous reporting of corruption is a crucial tool in the fight against this pervasive issue. When citizens witness corruption daily but are afraid to report it due to potential negative outcomes, it perpetuates a culture of impunity and allows corruption to thrive. However, optimism is high that making maximum use of technology will thrive in the war against corruption.

The one-day dialogue which brought over forty (40) citizens including heads of women's groups, religious heads, county officials, youth, and persons with disabilities representatives stimulated provocative talks and reemphasized the usage of the Talkay mobile app and other mediums of reporting. This gathering espoused the need for more citizen engagement around the country. Additionally, with the elections at the heart-point of the discussions, citizens were encouraged to make use of a Decision-Making Reference Guide that was developed to guide citizens about ways to go about in the upcoming general and presidential elections. The guide among other things highlighted issue-based decisions citizens are to make and take into consideration when voting before and after elections. 

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT

By Civil Society Organizations on the October 10, 2023 Elections

Maintain the Integrity of the Elections and Preserve the Peace: CSOs Call on NEC and Political Parties and Candidates

(October 17, 2023) Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians and development partners. A very warm welcome to this press conference, convened by several renowned civil society organizations. They include the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL), Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH), Women NGO Secretariat (WONGOSOL), Public Health Initiative of Liberia (PHIL), and Accountability Lab Liberia (Alab). Others are Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI), Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), Sister AID Liberia Incorporated (SALI), Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, and Kids Educational Engagement Program (KEEP Liberia). These and other CSOs have been very active during these elections, in part through conducting civic and voters’ education; monitoring/observing campaign promises and finance, electoral violence, including those targeting women and disadvantaged groups, voting, etc. We recognize cordial working relationships mutually-benefiting partnerships with the National Elections Commission, media, and other stakeholders that made these contributions possible.

 

Exactly one week ago, Liberians turned out in mass to elect leaders of their choice, including a president, vice president, 15 senators, and 73 representatives.  We applaud the courage and commitment of Liberians to vote and shape the country’s future, despite some of their past and current leaders not doing enough to tangibly transform their lives.   

As observed by both local and international observers, overall, the voting process was conducted in a peaceful and free manner. Access to the voting centers and ballot-counting process allowed civil society, the media, representatives of political parties and independent candidates, and international partners to closely observe the process, thus increasing its inclusiveness, transparency, and credibility. The National Elections Commission has been tallying and announcing provisional results from the elections, in largely transparent and open manner. These are notable positive developments and signs of the growth of Liberia’s democracy.

Despite the success of the voting and ongoing announcement of preliminary results, we are concerned about multiple issues associated with the elections.  

Firstly, the pace of the counting and announcement processes is very slow, especially for highly accessible areas. With increased anxiety and brewing tension among citizens, political parties, and candidates, NEC needs to be more efficient in tallying and announcing final results to calm down nerves. After nearly one week, the tallied votes and results from some counties and districts are still below 60%. This is concerning. Additionally, it is concerning to observe the confrontational approach taken by NEC Commissioners when interacting with journalists.   This adds to the very late start of daily press conference, 5pm instead of the 4:30 pm schedule publicized. Unexplained delays in announcing final results from electoral district 8 in Montserrado County, District 2 in Mary Land County, and District 4 in Grand Bassa County  raises concerns.

We acknowledge the 15-day window stipulated in Article 83(c) of the Liberian Constitution; however, we also observe the slow pace with which results are announced, as well as the delay in releasing results from places that are obviously accessible in favor of more remote areas without any reason given by the Commission. The more the results are delayed, with no clear information and explanations, the more people will speculate about alleged wrongdoings or foul play. It is in NEC’s best interest, as well as the integrity of the elections and peace of country, to timely process and announce all results from the elections.

Finally, we have received distressing reports of violence and storming of the tallying centers in Montserrado and Nimba Counties by supporters of some political parties and candidates, especially the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). This is extremely troubling, as it could be interpreted as attempts to manipulate/undermine the integrity, transparency, and independence of the votes counting process. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about some candidates and political parties declaring themselves as winners, when NEC is the only institution mandated by law to do so. This is a recipe for violence, as it may incite overzealous partisans and supporters to act in ways that jeopardize the peace of the country. Calm and maturity are needed, as we await the final results from the National Elections Commission.

Recommendations:

In view of the above, we like to make the following broad and specific recommendations:

1. NEC

  • Enhance efficiency and expediency in counting and reporting/announcing the election results as well as respect time announced for commencement of the daily press conference
  • Show understanding and empathy when addressing concerns from journalists
  • Fully implement guidelines and regulations governing the elections, including but not limited to sanctioning candidates and political parties that will contravene established laws.
  • Clearly inform the public about reasons why some districts are yet to be completed, especially in accessible locations.

2. Political Parties and Independent Candidates

Respect the electoral rules and guidelines and refrain from individual and collective actions that could undermine the credibility of the elections as well as incite violence and jeopardize the peace of the country.

3. Stakeholders and other Civil Society

Continue the engagements with the electoral process, working collaboratively with NEC to ensure a free, transparent and credible process.

Conclusion

As the electoral process is still ongoing, we would like to call on all candidates and political parties as well as the general public to remain calm, peaceful, tolerant, and closely observe the process. We urge individuals and groups with grievances to address them through established mechanisms. The rule of law must prevail at all times in Liberia, especially during these elections. Let’s work to preserve the peace and show to the world that we are capable of managing our electoral and other key processes, with the required levels of inclusiveness, transparency, fairness, and integrity. 

Thank you.

Signed:

______________________________________________________________

Anderson D. Miamen, (Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia)

______________________________________________

 Naomi Tulay-Solanke, (Community Healthcare Initiative)

____________________________________________________________

Adama Dempster, (Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia)

__________________________________________________

Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah, (Organization for Women and Children)

____________________________________

Harold Marvin Aidoo, (Integrity Watch Liberia)

_____________________________________

Lawrence Yealue, (Accountability Lab Liberia)

________________________________________________________

Matthias Yeanay, (Institute for Research and Democratic Development)

_______________________________________

Joyce Kilikpo, (Public Health Initiative of Liberia)

_______________________________________

Miatta Darwolor, (Sisters AID Liberia Inc.)

______________________________________________

Esther Davies-Yango, (Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia)

____________________________________________

Atty. Facia Harris, (Paramount Young Women Initiative)

_______________________________________________-

Brenda Moore, (Kids Educational Empowerment Program)

Wednesday, 13 September 2023 10:21

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

CENTAL Encourages New LACC Commissioners to Lead by Example and Be Robust    

Monrovia, Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Distinguished members of the press, fellow Liberians, and partners. We would like to appreciate Liberians for their largely peaceful participation in the ongoing campaign activities, which are key components of the ensuing Presidential and Legislative Elections. As the election date gets nearer, we would again like to remind the various political parties and candidates about their responsibility to uphold the Farmington Declaration, which was signed on April 4, 2023, demanding peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections. Also, CENTAL would like to remind Liberians about the need to properly examine the various Candidates vying for public offices. Voting for corrupt and bad leaders will mean stalling the development and progress of the country. So, be careful whom you vote for, as you will have to live with the consequences of your October 10, 2023 decisions/choices for the next six to nine years.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, on September 6, 2023, the Liberian Senate confirmed the seven (7) Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s Commissioners who were nominated by President Weah on June 8, 2023. Those confirmed by the Liberian Senate included Cllr. Alexandra Kormah Zoe, Chairperson, Mr. Ernest R. Hughes, Vice Chairperson, and Mr. Randolph E. Tebbs, Commissioner for Monitoring and Investigation. Dr. Miatta Jeh and Atty. Samuel F. Dakana were confirmed as Commissioners for Monitoring and Investigation, while Cllr. Oretha Snyder Davis and Cllr. David Wilson were confirmed as Commissioners for Prosecution respectively. 

CENTAL commends the government of Liberia, its partners, and Civil Society Organizations for their roles played throughout the process, which led to the vetting of these Liberians, their nomination by the President, and subsequent confirmation by the Liberian Senate. Essentially, also, we like to commend the outgoing leadership of LACC, especially Cllr. Edward Kla Martin and his team for bringing relative stability and sanctity to the Commission, after a turbulent past, as the Commission was largely in the media for the wrong reasons. The new batch of officials have an appreciable foundation upon which they can build.

Fellow Liberians, Liberia needs a robust, independent, well-resourced, and public-interest driven LACC more than ever before. This is particularly important as Corruption is becoming pervasive in Liberia, especially in the public sector. Government’s 26 score out of a possible 100 on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International shows the scale of the problem at hand. The lack of actions against public officials sanctioned by the United States Government for alleged significant corruption shows lack of will and major gaps in the Liberian government’s anti-corruption efforts. Thankfully, on the other hand, citizens are becoming more concerned and demanding accountability and transparency from their government.

Considering the criticality of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in the fight against corruption in Liberia, we encourage the new corps of officers to tread cautiously and lead by example during the discharge of their duties. With the confirmation of these officials, the public expects to see a new, energized, and robust LACC, especially now that it has Direct Prosecutorial Power, which has since been lacking. The Country cannot afford to waste any more time in decisively dealing with her worst enemy: Corruption. While we acknowledge past efforts, they have not been enough to give Liberians the positive results anticipated, as public officials abuse public resources with so much Impunity.

The burden is on the new batch of Commissioners to change these negative narratives and give hope to Liberians by making impunity for corruption an issue of the past. CENTAL, the public, development partners, and other stakeholders will be keenly watching to see if this new LACC will live up to expectations by serving the Liberian people, instead of appointing authority or so-called big hands in government and other places in society. We urge the new leadership to endear itself to the public by robustly, timely, and impartially investigating and prosecuting alleged incidences of corruption, including those involving “big hands” in the government.

In conclusion, we call on the national government to provide adequate financial and logistical support to the Commission to operate robustly and independently. Meanwhile, we call on the Commission to forge meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, including civil society and citizens, if it must succeed in its work. Additionally, we call on development partners to provide financial and logistical support to the Commission to be fully operational. We firmly believe that the success of Liberia’s anti-corruption endeavors hinges on collective vigilance and collaborative efforts. CENTAL recommits to being a key partner in this regard.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

0886818855/0776391481

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Tubman Boulevard
Monrovia, Liberia
Phone: +231 88 681 8855
Email: info@cental.org.lr
Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

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