The Analyst (Monrovia)

27 May 2013

Liberia: CAMTEFIL Flags Snags in LACC Asset Verification Report

The Center Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Liberia (CAMTEFIL) says while it welcomes the "random the asset verification exercise of public officials" by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, it is strongly opposed to the surreptitious manner in which this major transparency and accountability responsibility has been executed by the LACC.

CAMTEFIL says the declaration of assets by public officials without making those declarations public as sanctioned by the LACC is anti-virus to the principles and dictates of the Liberian Constitution upholding the right of the public to information and knowledge.

Article 15C of the Liberia Constitution states in part that there"shall be no limitation on the right of the public to know about their government and its functionaries"

In a press release signed  by its National Director Edwin Harris, CAMTEFIL opines that the LACC should first and foremost remove the secrecy and protective shield on assets declared by public officials, as such secrecy over assets declared condoned by the LACC is not only a violation of the fundamental and constitutional rights of Liberians, but also casts doubt over the LACC's independence and leadership in the of process of verification, monitoring and reporting of public officials' asset as declared.

This protective shield provided by LACC can also be interpreted as a move by the LACC to aid and abet the most powerful persons in society who have no regard for the wellbeing of the ordinary Liberians and take pleasure in the abuse and subsequent looting of public resources.

The "random asset declaration verification" published by the LACC, CAMTEFIL says, can only be seen as a distraction from the real issue of people of Liberia who are demanding more from the LACC, specifically for public officials to publicly declare their assets.

"This can be viewed in uncertain terms as a mockery and betrayal of the Liberian people who have huge interest in seeing and knowing the assets as public," the group said.

"It is important for LACC to note that the spirit and intent of Asset Declaration is for the public to hold accountable their leaders and demand transparency in their stewardship," CAMTEFIL said further, adding, "Hence, such a protective shield constructed by  LACC on the assets declared by officials of Government defeats this fundamental principle in the fight against corruption."

CAMTEFIL wants to inform the LACC that the strategies of yesterday where agencies/individuals charged with public trust down play it tosatisfy the status qou at the detriment of the functionality of the Institutionand the general public is no longer relevant in this present day Liberia.

CAMTEFIL asserted further that it would appreciate if the LACC were to redeem itself on the asset declaration exercise by making the documents public in keeping with law, as the  "LACC is aware that there is no basis in fact and law for the secrecy and protective covering placed to the assets of the functionaries of Government."

"Towards this end, CAMTEFIL is calling on all civil society organizations in Liberia and the media to join forces in compelling the LACC to make public the assets declared by the functionaries of the Liberia Government and thereby removing the limitation on the rights of Liberians to know about their government and its functionaries," the group concluded.

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