After a lengthy wait, anti-corruption law issued [Archives:2006/1011/Front Page]

December 28 2006

By: Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, Dec. 26 – Yemen's first anti-corruption law was issued Monday, following parliamentary approval earlier this month.

Article No. 3 of the law dictates establishing a Supreme Independent National Committee with vast legal authority to fight corruption and track all of its practitioners.

The new law seeks to prevent and combat corruption while attempting to diminish its risks, as well as seize and confiscate those belongings and revenues resulting from its practice. Additionally, it stresses the importance of cooperating with foreign nations, as well as both regional and international organizations to help fight corruption.

Based on the United Nation's corruption combating agreement, the Yemeni law emphasizes transparency and objectivity in all financial, economic and administrative practices in such a way ensuring optimal administration and utilization of state financial resources.

It also will enact concerned authorities' observational role and facilitate citizen's access to information, together with encouraging the role of civil society organizations to actively participate in fighting corruption.

According to the law, the supreme committee will include 11 impartial, expert and capable members appointed via republican decree. Civil society organizations, as well as the private and women's sectors also will be represented on the committee.

The new law also urges every individual to report corruption either to the authority or other concerned authorities, together with documents proving such accusations.

It goes on to highlight the role to be played by civil society organizations in creating a general awareness of corruption risks, as well as promoting a culture that doesn't tolerate corrupt officials. It further classifies corruption crimes and dictates that corrupt Yemeni officials should be held accountable for their crimes, whether inside or outside Yemen.

Yemen's anti-corruption law came into being after widespread criticism of corruption in all state institutions, with numerous international reports mentioning the Yemeni government's inability to control corruption. Further, international organizations have designated grants and aid to help Yemen fight corruption, declaring that any national reforms should be preceded by rooting out corruption.

Toward the end of last year, the World Bank decreased its aid to Yemen to 34 percent due to rampant corruption. The European Union also warned that Yemen will face problems unless it takes sufficient measures to fight corruption in coming years.

Over the past few months and prior to Yemen's presidential and local elections, opposition parties waged intensive media campaigns against corruption, later exchanging accusations with the ruling party about practicing it.

Such corruption's spread has badly defamed the ruling party, prompting President Ali Abdullah Saleh to include fighting it in his electoral platform, wherein he promised to make such a fight among his top priorities in the near future.

Transparency International ranked Yemen at the bottom of its 2006 corruption index, although Yemen has signed a number of agreements pertaining to corruption, the last of which was the U.N. Anti-Corruption Agreement.

Many academics and specialists said the success of November's London Donors Conference arose from Yemen's real wish to fight and control corruption.