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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 125
July 4, 2009

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UN Convention against corruption

Corruption increases poverty and injustice. Let's fight it together …

BANGLADESH acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on February 27, 2007. The accession was a manifestation of the realization by the Government of Bangladesh that UNCAC is an international instrument to promote a key national interest, which is to create an institutional and policy environment in which corruption will be effectively controlled. This reflects the expectations of the citizens at large - everyone who shares a vision of Bangladesh in which transparency, integrity and accountability will be established in government, politics, business, civil society so that daily lives of the people would be free of corruption.

UNCAC background
The United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1996 the UN Declaration against Corruption and Bribery in International Commercial Transactions. Subsequently the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime was successfully negotiated which came into force in September 2003. Corruption was a key focus of both. However, by then in view of the growing international concern about widespread corruption and its adverse effects on peoples and societies the UN was already actively recognizing the need to establish a separate comprehensive instrument against corruption. In December 2000 the General Assembly established an Ad-hoc Committee to negotiate an anti-corruption convention which would be universal, binding, effective and efficient on the one hand, and flexible enough on the other, so as to take into account the legal, social, cultural, economic and political differences between member countries.

Why has Bangladesh acceded to the UNCAC?
Bangladesh acceded to the UNCAC because, together with other States Parties to the Convention Bangladesh is convinced and concerned about (Preamble):

- the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of the societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law,

- the links between corruption and other forms of crime, in particular organized crime and economic crime, including money-laundering,

- cases of corruption that involve vast quantities of assets, which may constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of States, and that threaten the political stability and sustainable development of those States,

- transnational nature of corruption that affects all societies and economies, making international cooperation to prevent and control it essential,

- the need for a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to prevent and combat corruption effectively,

- implications of illicit acquisition of personal wealth, which can be particularly damaging to democratic institutions, national economies and the rule of law,

- the need to prevent, detect and deter in a more effective manner international transfers of illicitly acquired assets and to strengthen international cooperation in asset recovery,

- the upholding of fundamental principles of due process of law in criminal proceedings and in civil or administrative proceedings to adjudicate property rights,

- the fact that prevention and eradication of corruption is a responsibility of all States and that they must cooperate with one another, with the support and involvement of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, if their efforts in this area are to be effective, and

- the principles of proper management of public affairs and public property, fairness, responsibility and equality before the law and the need to safeguard integrity and to foster a culture of rejection of corruption.

Criminalisation and law enforcement
The Convention requires States Parties to incorporate a wide range of corrupt actions as

criminal offences. These include basic forms of corruption such as bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, and at the same time other acts like trading in influence, concealment, abuse of functions, illicit enrichment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. Subject to criminalisation are acts in support of corruption like obstructing justice. The Convention goes deeper and wider by including in its scope corruption within the private sector and makes provisions for States Parties to criminalise

private-to-private bribery and embezzlement, although some offences in this arena are kept as optional due to differences in national law. Another form of bribery that will be treated as criminal are bribery of foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations.

Bangladesh has committed to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences the following acts: bribery of national public officials (Art 15); bribery of foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations (Art 16); embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion of property by a public official (Art 17); trading in influence (Art 18); abuse of functions (Art 19); Illicit enrichment (Art 20); bribery in the private sector (Art 21); embezzlement of property in the private sector (Art 22); laundering of proceeds of crime (Art 23); concealment (Art 24); and obstruction of justice (Art 25).

Article 30 provides that as a State Party, Bangladesh shall consider establishing procedures through which a public official accused of an offence established in accordance with this Convention may, where appropriate, be removed, suspended or reassigned by the appropriate authority, bearing in mind respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence. Where warranted by the gravity of the offence, Bangladesh shall establish procedures for the disqualification, by court order or any other appropriate means, for a period of time determined by its domestic law, of persons convicted of offences established in accordance with this Convention from:
- Holding public office; and
- Holding office in an enterprise owned in whole or in part by the State.

Source: Transparency International Bangladesh.


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