Ban Ki-moon: “Corruption is a strangling root that reaches deep into all our societies. No country is immune.”

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Mega Cervantes

Today in Vienna, organisations, individuals and groups from Europe, Asia, Central and South America and Africa, were recognised at the inaugural Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards. To coincide with International Anti-Corruption Day, the winners were presented their awards by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the recipients of the Awards for their courage. He also thanked His Highness and the Government of Qatar for supporting global anti-corruption efforts, crime prevention and the rule of law through the implementation of the Doha Declaration adopted last year at the 13th Crime Congress. He said: “Corruption is a strangling root that reaches deep into all our societies. It chokes hopes and frustrates opportunities. It enables the few to prosper at the expense of millions who are left behind. No country is immune.”

The annual Awards were inaugurated at a ceremony at the Hofburg Palace and acknowledged outstanding contributions and strides towards the prevention of and the fight against corruption around the world, including the impeachment of two national leaders in Central America and Europe. They were presented in support of the anti-corruption mandate of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), specifically, the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

After a long and thorough selection process, the high-level award committee with recommendation from the assessment advisory board, chose seven recipients across all four categories, including: Anti-Corruption Innovation, Anti-Corruption Academic Research, Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity and Anti-Corruption Lifetime Achievement.

Two winners in the Anti-Corruption Innovation category, namely, ‘Hanan Khandagji’ from Palestine who went undercover as a volunteer worker to investigate the mistreatment of young patients in Jordanian institutions for disabled children. ‘Khandagji’ discovered that caregivers and nurses were routinely abusing children in their care. Her in-depth reporting led to closures of several facilities and to the convening of a formal committee that produced a report on the abuses. ‘ArtLords,’ the Afghan-based grassroots movement of artists, was the second recipient in this category.  The group has raised awareness against corruption in Kabul, by promoting zero tolerance and integrity through street art, producing paintings of eyes on the walls as part of their "I See You" series.

Macedonian Criminal Law, Criminology and Crime professor ‘Miodrag Labovic’ and the ‘Groupe De Recherche Corruption & Democratie (CORDE)’ from France and Canada, shared accolades in the Anti-Corruption Academic category. ‘Labovic’s’ efforts led to the detention of former Macedonia Prime Minster Vlado Buckovski, who was sentenced to three years.  He was also rewarded based on his wealth of publications on the national structural reforms in the political and legal systems. ‘CORDE’ was acknowledged due to their acclaimed research project, which examines the political and economic problems undermining the ideal functioning of democracy in contemporary society that permanently deprives it of the confidence of its citizens.

The award for Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity was also presented to two finalists. The honours were bestowed upon ‘Anti-Corruption Youth Greece,’ who are a network of 1000 young active citizens aiming to drive change in Greece, Europe and internationally. Receiving no government funding, they are a group of young people who are striving to make positive changes in the lives of other young people. ‘TM’ of Tanzania was also recognized in the Youth Creativity category.  ‘TM’ is an NGO founded in 2004 that is composed of young singers using the power of song to raise awareness and drive home a robust anti-corruption message. Their record ‘Wipe out Corruption’ was written and composed to support the efforts of the Tanzanian government against corruption.

The final award of the ceremony was conferred upon ‘Thelma Aldana’ from Guatemala in the category of Anti-Corruption Lifetime Achievement. ‘Aldana’ is the Attorney General of Guatemala. Her lifetime of prosecutorial work culminated in the impeachment and subsequent removal of the Guatemalan president from office for fraud, illicit association and corruption relating to a customs fraud ring that provided discounts on import tariffs to companies in exchange for illegal kickbacks.

To celebrate the inaugural Awards and International Anti-CorruptionDay, a commissioned sculpture by Ahmed Al Bahrani, a contemporary Iraqi artist and sculptor, was unveiled at the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV). More than 3m in height, the steel composition of a raised hand signifies the international communities’ efforts to combat corruption and the unwavering strength and resolve of those presently engaged in this fight. The interlinked lines represent a globalised world, united in the fight against corruption and the see through construction, denotes the importance of transparency. The award was unveiled in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, His Highness Emir of Qatar, and His Excellency Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, UNODC Regional Special Advocate for the Prevention of Corruption.

The Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards was established by The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center (ROLACC). HE Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, UNODC Regional Special Advocate for the Prevention of Corruption, announced the establishment of the Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award at the 8th Annual Conference of International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) in November 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Dr. Ibrahim Al Jazy, Executive Director, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center (ROLACC) said: We were humbled by the overwhelming response received from the international community. The breadth of winners was indicative of a global movement against corruption and is also representative of the necessity to spotlight both notable figures in the fight against corruption and also those countless unsung heroes who struggle every day to make differences in the lives of their communities and to stamp out corruption in all its forms.”

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov said at the ceremony: “The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has given fresh impetus to the battle against corruption by recognizing that anti-corruption action is essential to end poverty; ensure quality education, promote decent work and economic growth; and protect natural resources.”

The Awards were open to submissions from around the world, submitted by third party entities to nominate any organizations, groups and persons of any nationality, demonstrating significant commitment and contributions toward the prevention and control of corruption. The evaluation process was initiated by a call for nominations, which were then submitted through an on-line nomination process.

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