12 December 2018

Namibia: Experts Called to the Anti-Corruption Party

Windhoek — Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa has asked experts in various fields to play their roles in the fight against corruption.

Noa, speaking during the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day here on Friday, said raising awareness on the dangers and consequences of corruption requires the participation of all stakeholders.

"Empirical research demonstrates that there is no single anti-corruption body that has succeeded in fighting corruption without the assistance and participation of other stakeholders," he said.

Noa says the public sector, civil society organisations, private sector, media and individual members of society are all stakeholders who should play their roles in the fight against corruption.

With regards to the public sector, Noa said it was necessary to note that the laws of Namibia, particularly the constitution, have put in place checks and balances by virtue of established institutions.

"There is no one-size-fits-all in the criminal justice system. ACC is established by law as a criminal investigating agency of alleged criminal conducts of corruption," he said.

He said the same constitution establishes the prosecutor-general with powers to prosecute criminal offences, including corruption, in the criminal courts of law.

The prosecutor-general, he said, is also not a referee and a judge at the same time.

"The constitution has established the judiciary with judicial powers to hear among others, criminal matters brought before the criminal courts by the prosecutor-general on behalf of the state," he explained.

"Then there is another vital role played by individual members of the public who must appear before the court of law and give evidence. In so doing [they are] assisting the prosecutor-general to prove the criminal conduct by the offender beyond reasonable doubt," he adds.

He said this illustration demonstrated that there are multi-role players in the dispensation of criminal justice.

"When one of those role-players neglect his or her responsibility, the result may be a delay in the dispensation of justice or even a total collapse of the case," he said.

Noa says courts play a pivotal role in ensuring that the public maintain confidence in the work of the law-enforcement authorities.

"The trust of the community in the work of the law enforcement authorities matters a lot," he said, adding that when the public has reported allegations of corruption, because of decades which some of the cases take on the court roll, the public loses hope and at times suspect that ACC has placed corruption cases under the carpet.

He said the practice of inordinate delays does not give the public courage to report incidents of corruption in future.

Similarly, he said the longer the delay, the higher the chance of witnesses no longer being available, due to death or other causes.

"I am saying this alive to the fact that some of the undue delays are caused by lawyers representing the suspects who raise interlocutory issues that cause more delays of the proceedings," he said.

Noa says he is concerned that due to lack of case management system of criminal court rolls, particularly in the lower courts, it has become easier for prosecutors or presiding officers to raise personal reasons to justify postponement of cases.

In Namibia today, he said, every time a witness is served with a subpoena to attend court to testify, the high chance is that they will come back without being called in the witness box because either the prosecutor is not ready to proceed with the prosecution or the lawyer has reasons to cause the postponement or the presiding officer is not available.

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