Sunday, May 20, 2007

A brave battle against corruption?

Let's hope so...

Late this week Haiti's president René Préval, following the lead of such brave voices-in-the-wilderness as Haitian senator Gabriel Fortuné, declared at an event celebrating the 204th anniversary of the Haitian flag that 2007 would be "the year of the war against corruption," and compared those involved with corrupt practices today to the "traitors" of two centuries ago.

Notably, Préval included in his denunciation, customs officials who receive bribes to let contraband cargo pass through, state employees dipping into the government till and judges who free prisoners in exchange for cash payments.

Calling on both the Unité de lutte contre la corruption (ULCC) and the Unité centrale de renseignements financiers (UCREF) to aid in the battle, one would hope the declaration of Haiti's president is a welcome official nod of solidarity with the efforts of organizations such as the Fondation Héritage pour Haïti, the domestic branch of Transparency International, which has pushed to keeo the ULCC as an autonomous body, rather than one under the control of Haiti's Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances, a move pushed for by members of Haiti's parliament.

If Haiti is ever going to succeed in weeding out the corruption that has had its tentacles coiled around the state almost since its founding, and reduce the poverty which former Police Nationale de Haiti director Jean-Robert Faveur once mournfully noted, is "killing the country," it will need autonomous agencies such as ULCC and UCREF that are not beholden to any politician's ego or vested interests.

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