- As Liberia commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day
By Leila B. Gbati
The United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, has given the Liberian people his word that their anti-corruption efforts will continue in full force even though the United States is not going to announce any new sanctions at this time.
As a result of the Global Magnitsky sanctions that were placed on three Liberian officials in August, Ambassador McCarthy stated that the United States government is able to and will continue to use sanctions as necessary on an ongoing basis in order to support their mutual development, democracy, and security goals. These sanctions will be guided by the United States Strategy on Combating Corruption.
On Thursday, December 8, 2022, in observance of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.S. Ambassador made the comments in an open letter. The letter was published as part of the celebrations.
In his open letter, Ambassador McCarthy stated that the all-important goal of transparent, free, credible, and peaceful elections in October 2023 will be an important factor in decisions about additional sanctions in the months leading up to the vote.
Nine months ago, I posed the intentionally provocative question, “What would J.J. Roberts have to say about Liberia today?” in reference to the country’s current political climate, which contributed to the beginning of a conversation about the current state of affairs in this country 175 years after it gained its independence and 200 years after the first American settlers arrived. “Now on December 9, International Anti-Corruption Day, and at the close of the bicentennial year, I believe it may be helpful for Liberians to take another honest look in the mirror,” he said.
According to him, the Global Magnitsky Sanctions are justifiably a hot topic in Liberia. While some Liberians have urged the United States to implement more sanctions and even proposed names, others have objected that the sanctions process lacks due process. He claims that some Liberians have urged the United States to implement more sanctions and even proposed names.
He clarified that Global Magnitsky is a tool that the United States uses to protect itself from particularly corrupt actors. It is not a punishment against a country or government, nor is it in any way a substitute for a domestic judicial process in the host country, including prosecution. Global Magnitsky is a tool that the United States uses to protect itself from particularly corrupt actors.
He emphasized that in the end, “due process” or an accused person’s “day in court” can only occur in accordance with Liberian law, in courts located within Liberia.
He added that the Liberians generally agree with their assessment that corruption is the primary cause of Liberia’s failure to thrive; the majority of people in the international community share that assessment, which is why the United States Department of the Treasury took the extraordinary step of sanctioning five senior Liberian officials in only three years under the Global Magnitsky set of sanctions. This has led to some positive results, including the resignation of the three most recently sanctioned officials, who were sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky set of sanctions
“In our announcements regarding the Global Magnitsky Sanctions, the Government of the United States has used language that is unusually harsh regarding the corruption of these individuals,”
Liberians have, on occasion, also heard responses from sanctioned officials in their own right “he made the claim.
Ambassador McCarthy also mentioned that the upcoming elections in 2023 will be the time for Liberians to let their voices be heard on this topic. This is especially important given the fact that several of those sanctioned officials may be running for office because it is the Liberians, not the United States government, who are responsible for ensuring good governance in Liberia. In addition, Ambassador McCarthy mentioned that several of those sanctioned officials may be running for office.
He maintained that sanctions can be helpful, but the most important tool for holding officials accountable is the vote in a democratic election. If the people of Liberia make the decision to elect or re-elect sanctioned officials to their leadership positions, it will send a very clear signal about how they truly feel about the fight against corruption and the future of their country.
He made the observation that corruption is not a problem that is exclusive to Liberia but rather a global issue, and that it is a problem that exists in the United States at all levels of governance. As a result, on this day, which is designated as International Anti-Corruption Day, it is important to think about what additional steps Liberians can take to combat this problem.
He was of the opinion that there are a great number of immediate actions that the government of Liberia can take right now to combat corruption that do not require assistance from other nations. In fact, many of these actions are already codified in law. He emphasized the importance of fully funding Liberia’s integrity institutions, publishing the names of public officials who fail to comply with asset declarations, making information on all legislative votes and actions easily accessible to the public, and reducing funding for government agencies that do not comply with annual financial reporting requirements, to name just a few examples among many others. Other examples include: publishing the names of public officials who fail to comply with asset declarations; making information on all legislative votes and actions easily accessible to the public; publishing the names of public officials who
“If it is something that both the government and the people of Liberia truly want, then corruption can be immediately and significantly reduced in Liberia by Liberians, without any assistance from the United States or other donors. If this is something that the government and the people of Liberia truly want, then today, of all days, we must acknowledge this fact together. “I commend all Liberians who are truly committed to this noble effort,” he said in his concluding remarks. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”