Archive for the 'IACC Young Journalist' Category

The Zero Rupee Note as explained by Vijay Anand of 5th Pillar

Parker Mah sat down with social reformer and innovator Vijay Anand at the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference to talk about the Zero Rupee Note, one of the most successful initiatives developed by 5th Pillar, an Indian anti-corruption organisation co-founded by Anand. The note is a “zeroed” version of an Indian banknote which can be proferred in any situation in which a bribe is demanded. On the back of the note is the message “Encourage, Enable and Empower every citizen of India to eliminIte corruption at all levels of society” as well as contact information for 5th pillar and references to the Right to Information act. It serves as both a tool to combat corruption at the point of interaction and an awareness-raising tool on the ground. It is distributed in 15 different local languages through community and student organisations.

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Recorded on location in Brasilia, November 2012.

Omaid Sharifi on corruption on Afghanistan

IACC Young Journalist Ryan Hicks spoke to Omaid Sharifi about the situation in Afghanistan with regards to corruption, the key players and issues, and the role of youth and media in fighting corruption.

Omaid Sharifi is the Country Representative for Afghanistan at the International Center for Democratic Transition. He is also the founder of the White Ribbon Movement. Follow him on Twitter at @OmaidSharifi

Shot on location in Brasilia, November 2012.
Camera & Production: Parker Mah
Editing: Ryan Hicks & Parker Mah

The Next Step: Post-Arab Spring

Throughout the International Anti-Corruption Conference, we’ll post exclusive interviews about what happens after the workshops and panels are over. We’ll look at what was accomplished and what strategies participants can actually take back to their countries to fight corruption.

One of the topics that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue here in Brasilia is the Arab Spring and the debate over what the next steps should be and whether change is happening fast enough. So, we decided to dedicate two episodes of The Next Step to different perspectives on what needs to happen in the Arab Region, post-Arab Spring.

Our first guest is an Iraqi parliamentarian from Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, Susan Shahab-Nouri.

Our next guest is Hadeel Qazzaz. She works with the NGO Integrity Action. She is from Palestine and just moved to Calgary, Canada.

A Country Without Corruption?



Have you ever wondered if it is possible that a country could exist without impunity? With people who are not willing to be corrupted? We know that corruption is like an evil tattoo on the globe’s skin, but perhaps in a “distant nation” that could live without bribes, no crooked acts would be able to “bite”.

To my knowledge, this nation today exists only in our imagination. However, there are thousands of people around the world who struggle to build a culture of accountability and anticorruption in their countries, and many of them were gathered at the 15th Conference of Anti-Corruption in Brasilia this month. From that conference, here are the most important points of the final declaration of the event, with related comments from Eduardo Bohorquez, director of the Mexico chapter of Transparency International Mexico, and some other experts (continued below photo).


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during the 15th IACC in Brasilia.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during the 15th IACC in Brasilia.

“Citizens, acting in coordination, can more effectively challenge governments, corporations, financial institutions, sports bodies or international organisations that neglect their duty towards them.”

“The secret is not the act of individuals alone, but empowering institutions,” said Barry O’Keefe, chairman of the 15th IACC in the plenary. He also mentioned that in order to happen a significant change in society, it must be through existing agencies, who must be at the service of civil society.

Bohorquez from TI Mexico added the importance of specialized media, that one focused on investigative journalism working with anticorruption issues in a local perspective.


“Secrecy in the world of money has meant trillions lost by developing countries. To restore their trust, transparency and accountability must be rooted in the financial system.”

The world’s financial system today allows easy international money movements. Similarly, individuals and institutions acting corruptly can hide and evade the law by these means.

Manfredo Marroquin, Acción Ciudadana AC president, said that the main problem in Latin America is that corruption is a tradition in the region: “In Latin America there is a historical dissociation between transparency and security. We have never combined both, there is a culture of secrecy “. As an example put the illegal financing of political parties, where there is no clear accountability in his country, Guatemala.

Moreover Bohorquez says the Mexican financial system is hurt by the “everyday corruption”, the one that affects most all families: “While searching the vast corruption control, you have to learn what hurts people, petty corruption, if you have less than a minimum wage, you spend 30% of your earnings in corruption, for drinking water, for roads, bribes so your child enters to the school you want … ”


“Empowerment of civil society to review the distribution of aid and the extraction of minerals is a key element.”

Manish Bampna, from the World Resources Institute , spoke on the importance of taking new technologies to combat corruption in the energy sector and in the environment: “In the near future I want to see that access to information extraction natural resources is a reality. ”

Furthermore, Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said that we are still far from reaching a treaty that will ensure sustainable development parallel to mankind’s current lifestyle. Referring to the outcome document of Rio +20, he was skeptical, “however, this is what we have and we should work with it” he said.

Bohorquez said that there are many complaints from the public services and the distribution of resources but few are those who wonder why it does not work. “Companies get bribes so they give concessions to friends, those who own certain companies”.


“In the realm of sports, fans and sponsors, players and athletes need power over the bodies that run their sport. These bodies should be encouraged to lead by example by upholding basic principles of integrity.”

Sports were discussed several times during the conference, especially because in less than two years Brazil will host the World Cup. To fight corruption in sports in Brazil, the  National Secretary for Football, Luis Antonio Paulino, announced that an Agency for Combating Corruption for Sport will be created.

The objective of this project is not only to stop corruption during the World Cup, but to set an example for the following tournaments. We will see how it goes.


(Andrea Arzaba, November 2012)

Garzón, the last exile from spanish dictatorship

When newspapers in your host country only mention Spain to talk about its crisis, its evictions, cuts and corruption of its politicians, seeing an audience of 140 nationalities cheering Baltasar Garzon was like a reconciliation with my country.

The judge answered questions raised by the public, received books, had his picture taken and answered dozens of reporters- even while having a broken voice due to a virus. In Spain, however, he cannot practice his profession and although for a large segment of society he is a hero, the rest think of him as a villain.

His order to wiretap leaders of the largest network of corruption linked to a political party ended his career. Garzón does not fear saying that the dismissal process was “arbitrary, unfair” and “irregular” and said he will take Spain to the European Court of Human Rights after the Constitutional Court rejected his appeal for protection.

Baltasar Garzón

The judge also criticized Spain for the barriers imposed while he was preparing to investigate the offshore accounts of over a hundred other participants. The diversion of money to offshore territories was one of the claims of his speech. “It is unacceptable that after 10 years of discussion within the European Union, there has been no agreement on such systems. Perhaps the explanation is that, in one way or another, the European Union countries are the most related to transactions and operations in tax heavens.”

Among his claims, he proposed an amendment to laws in order to better facilitate the fight against corruption by the judiciary. Garzón said that corruption is not configured as a crime, but the crime lies in behavior relating to it. Thus arose the need for corruption to be considered a crime under international jurisdiction.

“It is increasingly clear linking corruption and transnational serious facts within the jurisdiction of the international court,” he said. “Genocide crimes, drug trafficking, piracy …. In all of them there are elements of corruption and any judge of any country should have an obligation to investigate.”

“Corruption is itself a major crime category and therefore should have no difficulty to contemplate corruption within the international jurisdiction but there is lack of political intention,” he said.

Garzón, who is representing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, now begins a series of trips through Latin America. He had to leave Spain (he describes himself as the “last exile from Franco) but his corruption lessons now resonate in the rest of the world.

Photo: ©

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