Sierra Leone Anti-corruption Commission
The ACC was established following the 1990s civil war to investigate rampant corruption in public agencies, then beginning to receive renewed foreign investment. The 2000 Anti-Corruption Act established the ACC as an independent commission to investigate government corruption. The ACC was partially funded and staffed by foreign (mostly British) experts, although in 2007 the British government withdrew support claiming the ACC were not given broad enough powers.
Its first major action was to order the arrest of Sierra Leone's Minister of Transport and Communications Momoh Pujeh and his wife for involvement in the illegal diamond trade which funded much of the Civil War. Corruption is seen as a generalised problem of huge proportions in Sierra Leone, and a contributing factor to the outbreak and continuation of the bloody civil war which destroyed the nation. As late as 2007, the government itself admitted that entire ministries failed to produce any work, as their entire budgets were being diverted through corruption. A BBC journalist interviewed the Foreign Minister in 2007 and found that her office toilets were never connected to water sources as construction contractors failed to carry out jobs for which they were paid.
The ACC has been accused of lacking political will to tackle the nation's endemic public corruption. One foreign commentator accused the pre-2004 ACC in a World Bank study of being a "Phoney" reform organisation, created to "appease foreign donors" but not effectively fight government corruption.
In November 2005, ACC head Valentine Collier was himself sacked, accused of involvement in corruption, although his defenders argue he was sacrificed by the Sierra Leone parliament to appease the British government's Department for International Development (DFID), the ACC's primary funder.
In 2005, its power to prosecute was removed from the office of the Sierra Leone Attorney General, and given to an independent three person body. In early 2008, the commission's powers were again amended to give it direct arrest and prosecutorial powers following the electoral victory of President Ernest Bai Koroma in September 2007 on a platform that made new anti-corruption actions a central plank. In October 2007, Henry Joko-Smart was removed as chair, accused of not doing enough to move prosecutions forward, and replaced with human-rights lawyer Abdul Tejan-Cole. Active cases have dramatically increased from 2004. Notable 2008 prosecution targets included the former senior Sierra Leonian government Ombudsman and 12 officials of the Customs and Excise Department of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) as well as one police officer connected with the NRA. In 2010 Tejan-Cole stepped down to become the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. The current head of the ACC is Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, who was a prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
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- Donors pledge to rebuild S Leone. BBC. 1 December 2005.
- Mr. President, just for the sake of integrity. John Baimba Sesay Awoko (Freetown). 30 July 2008
- Let the dishonourable members exit. Editorial The Christian Monitor (Freetown) Monday, 9 April 2007
- Anti-Corruption Commission arrests 12 Government Officials. Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme. Mar 8, 2008
- S Leone president declares assets. BBC. 1 September 2008.
- Sierra Leone police detain ex-ombudsman. Reuters/IOL (SA). April 18, 2008
- Sierra Leone Sacks Anti-Corruption Chief. Kari Barber. VOA News. 24 October 2007
- Anti Corruption Commission - Sierra Leone Institutional profile. African Development Database. Accessed 2009-05-03.
- http://www.anticorruption.sl/ Official Website