The ACC has placed emphasis on preventing corruption, but has been weak in curbing corruption
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) says the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is being used as a political tool to oppress and harass members and activists of opposition parties.
In a followup research report on the ACC, TIB highlighted this remark, and recommended 16 points to prompt its activities and gain the people's trust.
TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman, in a press conference at Midas Centre in Dhaka's Dhanmondi on Monday, said the ACC lacks skills to conduct investigations in bank corruption, property embezzlement cases, and irregularities in other sectors.
"It is regrettable that the ACC cannot gain the people's trust, though it has freedom and is active on paper, but inactive practically. So, the commission has to convince the people that it will prevent all forms of corruption,” Dr Iftekharuzzaman emphasized.
Replying to a query, he spoke about the ACC’s weakness in curbing corruption, adding that the ACC is directly influenced by the government, which is unconstitutional.
TIB has also accused the ACC of engaging in financial transactions, negligence of duty, and irregularities.
The ACC has placed emphasis on preventing corruption, but has been weak in curbing corruption, the report said.
It continued that the ACC was focused on "catching the small fry"rather than the "big fish."
From 2006 to 2018, ACC filed 848 cases on a total of 4,038 investigations launched and the conviction rate in these cases was 57.5%, which is lower than the international standard (more than 75%).
TIB also said that the ACC did not take action on allegations made on its hotline number. However, the major concern with regard to ACC’s accountability and oversight is the lack of any external oversight mechanism as it is only reportable to the president, he added.
Although the ACC has a monitoring and evaluation branch for evaluating inspection reports regularly, there is no public representation in the structure. The report continued, adding that although the annual report of the ACC is submitted to the president, no discussion has taken place in parliament regarding this report.
The operational autonomy of ACC is also limited, as sometimes it faces pressure from different stakeholders, including the government and political parties. The provision requiring prior permission of the government in filing cases against public officials, under The Government Employment Act 2018, is believed to have curtailed ACC’s autonomy. Also, the ACC practices self censorship to avoid adverse reactions from the government, the TIB report said.
Moreover, the report observes that the ACC has a number of weaknesses, including an insufficient budget, difficulties in filing allegations, lack of skill and professionalism during investigations, low rate of punishment in corruption charges, absence of an independent investigation system, and people’s negative perceptions about its activities.