Case Studies of Anti-Corruption Initiatives
While high-level corruption can be vast and seem overwhelming, there are numerous instances of targeted work and tightly focused approaches producing improved outcomes. Even if the overarching problem of corrupt governance is not solved through any one program, anti-corruption initiatives can improve rule of law in societies if only bit by bit. The material in this chapter draws on historical and recent media, presentations that were given at the committee’s workshop, and information on popular anticorruption tools to illustrate efforts to combat corruption across several countries.
While a review of the police’s role in these anti-corruption initiatives (as well as in other studies of efforts to bring corrupt officials to justice) is limited and at best suggestive, the review provides a starting point for envisioning a far more extensive research program. Accordingly, the committee examined these case studies to draw out common themes for anti-corruption efforts and successes. These themes include improving information collection and transparency, capitalizing on new leadership or legislation, mobilizing stakeholders, and allowing time for long-term investment in reform. The goal of any future research program should not be to reach general solutions that can be applied to any country but to identify features of context that provide opportunities (or barriers) for police to contribute to anti-corruption efforts. Selected examples have been divided into cases of successful prosecution of high-level officials and cases of dedicated work and investment to address systemic corruption.
PROSECUTION OF HIGH-LEVEL COUNTRY LEADERS
In the last 50 years, there have been many cases of high-level targets for the prosecution of corruption in different countries. The ones presented here include targets in the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Brazil, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, and examples from the international courts.
In 1978–1981, seven members of the United States Congress—six members of President Carter’s Democratic Party and one member of the opposing Republican Party—were investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. All seven were convicted of bribery and corruption charges and served time in prison for those convictions. All seven were prosecuted with evidence based on an undercover sting investigation set up during the Carter administration by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The role of the FBI in this investigation is an example of what can happen with an operationally independent law enforcement agency under a rule of law. The investigation was known as ABSCAM for Abdul Scam, referring to a fake art dealing business called Abdul Enterprises.1 The investigation had begun in New York State as a probe of local art theft and was taken over by a regional FBI executive (Gates, 2016). The initial case yielded a convicted criminal who agreed to work as an undercover agent while awaiting a sentence for another case. The undercover associates established contacts with criminals connected to casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey; that led, in turn, to the discovery of bribes offered to local and Congressional politicians to garner casino licenses and work visas for decoys. Hidden cameras created video records of the conversations and the money changing hands.2
The conditions under which these prosecutions occurred may be important factors in their occurrence, as well as their success: turnover in the FBI directorship and a shift in the role of the FBI in the United States (Wilson, 1980). While former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover led the FBI without visible ordinary corruption for 48 years, there is extensive evidence that he used public investigative resources to pursue private interests—the definition of high-level corruption employed in this report. Exposure of FBI misconduct through Congressional hearings conducted after Hoover’s death led to the appointment of the first (retired) federal judge to serve as FBI
1 See https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/abscam.
director, which has been the background of many FBI directors since then (including during the ABSCAM investigation). The changes included attention to corruption at the federal level of organized crime to the scope of the FBI’s mandate, something Hoover had never allowed (Schott, 1975). The ABSCAM case highlights the power of existing agencies to combat high-level corruption while displaying the importance of having institutional and political support for this work.
Republic of Korea (ROK)
No democratic country has imprisoned elected Presidents more frequently in recent decades than the ROK, widely known as South Korea. Three of the last seven presidents have been subjected to criminal investigation and prosecution after their presidencies (Scheiber, 2018; Persio, 2018).
- In 2009, former President Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide while under written questioning from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) about corrupt acts he was alleged to have committed during his time as president (BBC News, 2009).
- In 2017, President Park Guen-hye was impeached, prosecuted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison for corruption involving the top executives of Samsung and Lotte, who were also sentenced to prison (Scheiber, 2018).
- In 2018, former President Lee Myung-bak was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes including $22 million in embezzlement while he was serving as president (Kim, 2018).
The reasons for this very high rate of criminal punishment imposed on former heads of state are unclear. One hypothesis is that the ROK is a new democracy, freed from dictators only since the 1980s (Scheiber, 2018). Another hypothesis is that the ROK’s constitutional status is founded on a civil law system, in contrast to common law systems of prosecution in the US and the 50+ nations of the British Commonwealth. The Korean prosecution system, as in Russia, operates under a civil law model that creates structural antagonism between a head of state and the prosecutor’s office (Lee, 2016, p. 142)
prosecutors of civil-law countries must receive more attention in that they generally initiate criminal investigations, command police officers during the investigations, terminate the criminal cases at their disposal, and indict the criminal suspects for trials in the centralized and inquisitorial criminal justice system (e.g. Germany and Japan). Therefore civil-law prosecutors can exercise enough power to manipulate pre-trial criminal proceedings,
not only in order to stigmatize a certain political faction as immoral or criminal[ly] suspect, but also to grant immunity to another (Lee, 2016, p. 142).
The SPO appears to be an operationally independent part of the Ministry of Justice, led by the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Korea (Shin, 2020). As the prosecutor supervises the police in this Civil Law system, the police do play an important role in investigating high-level corruption. For example, President Lee Myung-Bak was questioned for 21 hours by police (Haas, 2018). Yet the decision to indict the suspect need not be taken to a grand jury, nor would the power to question senior officials lie in the hands of the police alone. The prosecutor in the ROK has the power to both initiate and block criminal investigations of all kinds. As with the ABSCAM case, this example shows that there must be a capacity to enforce anticorruption laws, and there must be a capacity to effectively investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes.
In their recently translated book, Operation Car Wash: Brazil’s Institutionalised Crime and the Inside Story of the Biggest Corruption Scandal in History, Jorge Pontes and Márcio Anselmo provide details from their time with Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) as part of the Brazilian Federal Police (Pontes and Anselmo, 2022). Federal police began to uncover a massive, decades-long corruption scheme in March 2014, which led to unparalleled political and judicial consequences, including the banning of corporate donations to electoral campaigns (Bechara and Goldschmidt, 2020; Odilla de Figueiredo, 2016). Pontes and Anselmo describe how critical cases were investigated, using tactics such as detentions, wiretapping, arrests, and plea bargains to obtain critical information (Pontes and Anselmo, 2022; see also Mota Prado and De Assis Machado, 2022).
Operation Car Wash was launched when the federal police began a money laundering investigation into Alberto Youssef, the owner of a gas station that was formerly a car wash (Segal, 2015). Surveillance of Youssef’s emails uncovered that he had gifted a Land Rover to a former Petrobras3 executive, Paulo Roberto Costa. This information led to a warrant to search Youssef’s office, which led to his arrest (Segal, 2015; Odilla de Figueiredo, 2016). Federal police then arrested Costa as well during the first of 70 phases of what would expand into one of the largest ever Brazilian corruption investigations (Bechara and Goldchmidt, 2020). Costa signed a collaboration agreement to present evidence on behalf of the government
3 Brazilian state-run oil company.
about his actions and observations during his time at Petrobras, after he was appointed by politicians as a department head (Odilla de Figueiredo, 2016; Bechara and Goldchmidt, 2020). With the investigation expanding and growing increasingly complex, it became necessary to involve specialists such as the Federal Revenue Service and Federal Prosecutor’s Office (Bechara and Goldschmidt, 2020). Testimony obtained via plea-bargain agreements was used extensively to expose a kickback and bribery scheme that had run from approximately 2004–2014, involving three major groups of players: Petrobras leadership, executives at top Brazilian construction firms, and Brazilian politicians. The scheme involved the following four steps:
- Construction executives covertly formed a cartel to coordinate bidding and systematic overcharging on Petrobras contracts;
- Select leadership at Petrobras would allow the padded contracts to go forward;
- The construction executives would pocket proceeds from these contracts while providing large kickbacks to Petrobras leadership;
- Some proceeds would be allocated to supportive politicians, in the form of personal gifts or campaign donations. Since Petrobras is partially state-run, politicians could select executives for the oil company. Under this scheme, those executives then provided the politician with bribes (Beauchamp, 2016). Gifts included Rolex watches, $3,000 bottles of wine, yachts, helicopters and sex workers (Segal, 2015).
Police and prosecutors were responsible for 295 arrests and 278 convictions, and returned $803 million in illicit gains to the Brazilian state throughout the seven-year investigation (Brito and Slattery, 2021). These arrests included top politicians and business executives from Brazil’s construction and oil industries, among them former Speaker of Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, and former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Bechara and Goldschmidt, 2020). Prior to Operation Car Wash, according to Pontes and Anselmo (2022), years of prioritizing a war on drugs had diverted federal police resources towards lower priority cases and away from anti-corruption investigations of Brazilian institutions, which is a mandate of the Federal Police.
In February 2021, Attorney General Agusto Aras dismantled the Operation Car Wash task force (Mota Prado and De Assis Macado, 2022). The Brazilian Supreme Court then overturned the convictions of Lula, the former president, transferring the case to an alternative venue for reconsideration. In June 2021, the Supreme Court determined that the judge in Lula’s original case was biased, and so all decisions against Lula were annulled, along with all evidence collected (Mota Prado and De Assis Macado, 2022).
Simply because police have helped to convict and imprison high-level officials does not prove that it was the accused, and not the police, who were on the side of corruption rather than rule of law. Using criminal law as a weapon for political battles is not new in human history, nor has it disappeared; dissidents in many countries today are still in jail on criminal charges for what is a protected right of free speech in other countries.
What can be concluded from the recent example of Brazil is that the Federal Police of Brazil was able to shift its focus in part towards investigating high-level corruption, putting at least one billionaire corporate executive in prison, and returning millions of dollars to the State-owned company. While unraveling the details of the case is a formidable challenge, an independent analysis may be useful in uncovering the role that police can play in combatting high-level corruption.
Guatemala and the International Commission Against Impunity
In 2006, the United Nations (UN) and Guatemala signed an agreement establishing the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, Spanish acronym), to investigate clandestine security groups that continued to operate within the country following the end of Guatemala’s long and brutal civil war in 1996 (International Crisis Group, 2016; Messick, 2015; Schneider, 2019). CICIG’s mandate was described as “unprecedented among UN or other international efforts to promote accountability and strengthen the rule of law” (CICIG, n.d.a) as it is the first hybrid mechanism4 with subject matter jurisdiction unrelated to serious human rights violations but rather centered on dismantling organized crime (Hudson and Taylor, 2010).
The Commission was classified as a hybrid mechanism because it was an independent investigative entity operating under State law, working alongside the Guatemalan justice system to build capacity within the country’s judicial and security institutions (The Washington Office on Latin America, 2015). This was unlike traditional capacity-building efforts, as it focused on both training and working alongside national prosecutors and police (International Crisis Group, 2016). Despite being a hybrid mechanism, the Commission operated as an independent body politically,
4 Other hybrid mechanisms include Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). See United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor Reg. 2000/16 (2000); Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone; Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the prosecution under Cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea; and United Nations Security Council Res. 1757, 2007.
organizationally, and financially (CICIG, n.d.b). CICIG was created to support the Public Prosecutors Office, the National Civilian Police, and other State institutions through the investigation and prosecution of illegal security forces and clandestine security organizations5 threatening democratic institutions with corruption, intimidation, and criminal violence (United Nations, 2006; Taylor, 2017).
While corruption was not explicitly part of the Commission’s original mandate, it became a focus in part because it was a common denominator across cases (Taylor, 2017). Strengthening the rule of law was at the center of the five main powers mandated to CICIG, including its authority to: (1) investigate any person, official, or private entity (United Nations, 2006, at Art. 3, § 1(a)); (2) present criminal charges to the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor and join in the proceedings as a private prosecutor (Art. 3, §1(b)); (3) identify civil servants who committed administrative offenses and participate as a third party in any resulting disciplinary proceedings (Art, 3, §§ 1(d) and 1(e)); (4) recommend legal and institutional reforms and public policies (Art. 3, §1(c)), and request cooperation, documents, and statements from any government official or entity (Art. 3, §1(h)). While the Commission had the power to investigate cases that fell within its mandate, all prosecutions and court decisions were the responsibility of the State of Guatemala (Hudson and Taylor, 2010).
While Guatemalan officials were initially reluctant to cede power to an independent entity, pressure from the United States and other international forces led the legislature to approve the agreement (S. Rep. No. 110-84, 2007; Messick, 2015). CICIG began operating in 2008 and was originally formed with a two-year mandate, but went on to operate for 12 years until Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, himself under investigation for corruption, worked to undermine the Commission’s efforts and refused to extend its mandate (Washington Office on Latin America, 2019). During its operation, CICIG supported complex cases that helped bring charges against multiple criminal networks and hundreds of current and former government officials including two former presidents, Supreme Court justices, members of congress, and multiple ministers, police chiefs, and military officers (Lakhani, 2015). It also helped identify and remove hundreds of corrupt police officials, prosecutors, and judges based on corruption and human rights violations (Lakhani, 2015; Messick, 2015). In 2015, the Commission’s work provided the cause needed to arrest almost 200 officials for corruption, including a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud customs
5 Defined as groups that: “commit illegal acts that affect the Guatemalan people’s enjoyment and exercise of their fundamental human rights, and have direct or indirect links to state agents or the ability to block judicial actions related to their illegal activities” (CICIG, n.d.a).
(Washington Office on Latin America, 2016; International Crisis Group, 2016). The evidence collected and analyzed by CICIG led to the resignation of then-president Otto Pérez Molina.
The Commission utilized a “learning-while-doing” approach to working with the Public Prosecutors Office and the National Civilian Police, to leave these agencies with the investigative and prosecutorial skills needed to succeed in high-level crime and corruption cases (Washington Office on Latin America, 2016, p. 10). There was a shift to group investigations into criminal networks, as contrasted with the traditional case-by-case of individuals methodology. The Commission also assisted in furthering civil society reforms by aiding in the selection of an un-compromised attorney general in 2010, adopting norms for the election of Supreme Court judges, and promoting public awareness and debate around impunity and organized crime, among others (Messick, 2015). The Commission also worked with the National Civilian Police to create units to support the Commission and prosecutors (Washington Office on Latin America, 2016). In 2008, 30 police officers were assigned to these units by the Ministry of the Interior. While their work represented a small fraction of policing in Guatemala, this strategy was aimed at promoting significant changes in police culture.
The CICIG is a unique mechanism for strengthening the rule of law; the removal of the CICIG has raised questions about the sustainability of the progress it helped achieve.
Other examples of successful prosecution of high-level country leaders can be found in several cases brought before international courts.
Based on evidence collected by field investigators and prosecutors in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, the life sentence of Serbian military leader Ratko Mladic was upheld in a June 2021 appellate ruling at the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The decision depended on the evidence of war crimes and atrocities collected by field investigators and prosecutors in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The context for this success was built in the mid-1990s, when the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice worked with the ICTY to develop its capacity to collect survey and forensic evidence in detention camps and from mass graves in the Former Yugoslavia. This evidence was central to 160 indictments and 80 trials involving more than 5,000 witnesses.
In 2004, in coordination with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and under the direction of State Department Secretary Colin Powell, a large-scale survey was conducted with more than 1000 refugees who fled the genocide in Darfur. The results were presented by Secretary Powell
to the United Nations Security Council and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and played a major role in the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir for the Darfur genocide. An estimation of the scale of the Darfur genocide based on this survey and related work was published in the journal Science (Hagan and Palloni, 2006).
As raised in the committee’s second report (NASEM, 2022c), cross-national peer-to-peer training provided by investigators and prosecutors in the above settings was extremely effective in transmitting essential skills for evidence collection to local field investigators. The lawyers and investigators involved posed very direct and specifically designed questions to sampled respondents who had experienced violence: questions such as whether the assailants were dressed in official government uniforms, the numbers of victims involved in the violence, the nature of their wounds (what kinds and how many), and whether these injuries were observed directly. The inference was that trainers skilled in transmitting techniques for legally relevant evidence can contribute to essential knowledge of levels and kinds of rule of law violations that are essential to form incident estimates and to address evidentiary questions raised in important international legal proceedings.
TACKLING SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION
In many countries, there are ongoing efforts to minimize and reduce harm from systemic corruption within public institutions. The ones presented here include dedicated work and investment in Italy, Malawi, Uganda, and Nigeria.
During her presentation to the committee, Miriam Golden of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy shared a case study of the successful overturn of corruption at the national level. The Italian Anticorruption campaign, referred to as the “Clean Hands Investigation,”began in 1992 and lasted through 1994. During that time, campaign leaders broke up institutions of systemic corruption that had endured for decades. The old system consisted of entrenched political parties in government that relied on kickbacks from public contracting for funding. This system began because political parties often did not have other ways to get money. Yet, as the system continued, it became more extractive over time. At the start of the investigation, the pattern of kickbacks (using an additional five percent fee) had been applied to every government contract issued. Over the two-year campaign, investigations exposed this system and helped to precipitate the collapse of the then-existing political parties. Corrupt politicians were permanently driven from public office and have not been able to return,
and some observed a drop in the prices of public works with this change (Golden, 2022). Looking at the country from the outside, Transparency International’s score for Italy rose from 42 in 2012 to 56 in 2021, making it the world’s third most improved country.
While there is no research evidence on the role of law enforcement in reducing this corruption, there is a fair amount of research documenting the judicially-led investigations against politicians.6 Public prosecutors were assisted in their investigations and arrests by the judicial police working under their supervision. These police were instrumental in seizing records and making arrests while working closely with prosecutors.
Several conditions may have enabled these successful judicial investigations. First, there was an independent judiciary. The judiciary also had an investigative capacity that grew over time, including an ability to understand very complex financial records after gaining expertise in forensic accounting and bank transfers. At a certain point in this process, the investigators and judiciary also gained cooperation from Swiss banking officials—based on changes in the Swiss penal code regarding money laundering that occurred in 1990. This allowed them to obtain incriminating evidence on Italian politicians they had not been able to secure before. Prosecutors reported that this was essential to gather the needed evidence for a successful case. Additionally helpful to the cause, according to Golden (2022), was that Italy had an aggressive free press at the time that did substantial reporting on the investigations. Simultaneously, shifts in international factors, such as the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, also helped to loosen vote loyalties domestically and contributed to more voters changing their views. While the current scientific evidence base linking any or all of these factors to the success achieved is notably scant, they appear to be plausible as preconditions.
Building on this success in the early 1990s, there have also been additional laws and changes that potentially have continued this environment of reduced corruption in Italy and paved the way for the long-term reduction of high-level corruption. For example, a quasi-experimental study of the asset protection aspect of the Italian Antimafia Information Law examined subsidies to Italian firms co-financed by the European Union (EU). Firms that apply for subsidies over EU 150,000 are systematically checked for connections to organized crime. Studies show requests for subsidies cluster just below the financial threshold, particularly in mafia-affected cities and sectors. This may demonstrate the effectiveness of the law, suggesting that once requests for subsidies start to be scrutinized, firms connected to the mafia stop making them.
6 Note that the civil law system, unlike the British Common Law, often places judges and prosecutors in positions of commanding police investigators.
Another development in Italy was a 1991 law regarding the central government’s dissolution of municipal governments with Mafia penetration. Between 1991 and 2013, 243 city councils were dissolved across 191 municipalities. There was also reduced public investment in those and neighboring municipalities. This was consequential because it could mean there is a deterrent effect—if the mafia thinks it can cluster, dissolving just one of the councils puts the others on guard. There is also quasi-experimental evidence that such dissolutions improve the quality of politicians once elections are held again when more educated politicians are likely to win. Golden (2022) emphasized that it is rarely one approach that leads to an outcome: rather, the success of anti-corruption campaigns seems related to using multiple policy and institutional instruments simultaneously.
During her presentation to the committee, Brigitte Seim, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, discussed a Malawi Centre for Social Research study from 2010. The study found that the Traffic Police and non-traffic police were among the top three groups of officials with the highest rates of bribery, measured using the percentage of contacts leading to a “request for gratification”, also known as bribes (see Figure 2-1).
This finding was not surprising, as the police are involved in corruption in many countries. Somewhat puzzlingly, however, the Malawi Centre for Social Research study found that 60 percent of respondents said the police are also helpful in fighting corruption. Additionally, the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau in 2012 noted that the “Malawi Police Service assists the Bureau through provision of security, conducting arrests and seizures” (2012). Similarly, Seim reported from her own research that 24 percent of surveyed citizens believe police are responsible for reporting and monitoring corruption. Of those who would take action against corruption, the most common anticipated action was to report it to the police (43%).
Police are part of the problem as well as the solution, summarized Seim, which leads to the question of who watches the watchdogs? She also offered a more nuanced question asking, “how can we empower the police to contribute to anti-corruption efforts without expanding opportunities for corruption and eroding trust and legitimacy?”
Before answering this question, Seim shared her hypothesized parameters for success. First, using the police may be more effective when targeting corruption outside the police force, rather than for internal reform. It is also likely important to have modest goals, as it’s unrealistic to think that efforts will eliminate corruption or lead to complete reform at the highest levels of government. Instead, she explained that the goal should be a reduction in
corruption, which may not even be detectable in cross-national datasets. An index like Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index might not, therefore, be the best way to track improvements following interventions from the State Department, as this index is not granular enough. Finally, goals should be practical, concluded Seim. There is limited empirical evidence on the effect of existing interventions, so efforts should aim to provide possible tangible interventions for future research and pilots.
Considering these parameters, Seim presented a typology of police roles in anti-corruption work, across the corruption life cycle (see Figure 2-2). This life cycle includes selection (e.g., meritocratic recruitment, elections), prevention, (e.g., limiting discretion, ensuring oversight and monitoring), detection (e.g., audits, tiplines, whistleblower protections), then finally
enforcement (e.g., public arrests, sentencing). There is also a link noting the influence from enforcement back to selection.
“Where can the police enter in this lifecycle?” Seim asked. Drawing on the work of Fox (2022), she hypothesized that police are often better at reactive actions than preventative tasks. It follows that they would likely be most effective in the detection and enforcement parts of this cycle. But there is also a need to emphasize bottom-up approaches involving citizens and civil society, she said. She suggested that to be most successful multistakeholder interventions should be designed, aiming to tackle all parts of the corruption lifecycle. Interventions could even be designed to involve the police in limiting high-level corruption, but political will is always a prerequisite. One encouraging piece of evidence Seim cited is in the Malawi Corruption Hotline. While many complaints to this hotline are one-off exchanges that are more minor in nature, a portion of complaints do pertain to high-level corruption. Data from this hotline and analogous hotlines from other countries could be analyzed to understand corruption patterns and target interventions.
Another example of corruption reduction, in this case in the health sector, comes from Uganda, where bribery is very common. In 2010, an estimated one in four Ugandans who engaged with the health sector were asked to pay a bribe for services (Peiffer et al., 2020). Uganda became the focus of a novel mixed-method approach which identified the country’s health sector as a potential outlier for bribery reduction. Here, “outlier” is used to classify “a sector within a country where the bribery rate has unexpectedly and significantly decreased” (Peiffer et al., 2020, p. 722). The study found that from the years 2010 and 2015, estimated rates of bribery fell by half in Ugandan health services. Researchers concluded via qualitative analysis that the country’s Health Monitoring Unit (HMU), established in 2009, mobilized Ugandan communities. HMU is a highly visible institution with an unusually high level of support and direction from the president. HMU developed a strategy focused on improving accountability in the sector. Research results suggest that HMU’s strategy of carrying out highly visible investigations may have pushed health workers to be more cautious and less willing to request bribes. The government used radio announcements, a hotline, and a 24-hour help center, along with several other efforts to ensure that citizens were reporting and detecting corruption at high rates.
At the workshop, Seim emphasized that these efforts involved many different stakeholders, including doctors, pharmacists, public health officials, auditors, lawyers, information communication technology officials, police officers, and support staff. These efforts centered on a high-profile strategy developed by the government that prioritized publicized anticorruption raids across the country’s healthcare institutions (Peiffer et al., 2020). Uganda’s Minister of Health, who went undercover to seek routine, free laboratory testing from Naguru Hospital in Kampala, carried out one such raid. After two health workers allegedly requested bribes for these tests, police officers and a camera crew were sent in to conduct and film the arrests of the two workers (Peiffer et al., 2020).
Health workers interviewed for the study discussed the influence of HMU on bribery patterns (Peiffer et al., 2020). Many workers reported having received an HMU visit to their facility, and several interviewees described witnessing arrests at their place of work. One nurse lecturer described her successful experience reporting her colleagues to HMU for stealing drugs, explaining how after she and others reported the theft, HMU then tracked and “caught” the individuals in question (Peiffer et al., p. 429). Following HMU visits, staff reported increased fear of engaging in bribery.
While HMU’s strategy seemingly resulted in lower rates of bribery, Seim highlighted the unintended consequences that emerged as a result of its
efforts. This included undermining morale among frontline health providers and citizens’ trust in health services. While filming arrests was controversial, Seim noted it was also effective, as it addressed the “watching the watchmen” issue (Seim, 2022). Fear of being caught and shamed by HMU for engaging in corrupt acts (“naming and shaming”) likely made healthcare workers more reluctant to request bribes (Peiffer et al., 2020). While the long-term impacts of the agency’s work are still up for debate, Uganda’s justice, law, and order sector has considered implementing a similar highly visible anti-corruption strategy.
Nigeria and E-Government
E-government is an approach to governing that relies on using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve government efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability (World Bank, 2015b). Beyond simply transitioning services online, e-government more broadly encompasses a technology-driven conversion of government with goals that include: improving the delivery of government services, improving public administration, reducing costs, promoting economic development, and enhancing transparency and accountability (World Bank, 2015a).
E-policing, as a subset of e-government, is a strategy of implementing virtual tools that support police work through ICT technologies, allowing for intelligence-led policing, crime prevention, data collection and storage, and general communication, both internally and with the public (Boondao and Tripahi, 2009; Mollah, Islam, and Islam, 2012). E-policing can be integrated into police tasks to support popular strategies including community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing, hot spots policing, and evidence-based policing (Cordner and Perkins, 2013). Law enforcement organizations around the world, with varying levels of ICT infrastructure and resources, are taking advantage of ICTs to provide policing services, including mobile technologies, web applications, messaging services, location services, and social network sites (Thoyyib, 2019). Desired outcomes of e-policing include the capability to leverage real time and recorded data and shape proactive strategies for addressing crime (Joshua et al., 2021, see also Matlala, 2016) and to empower citizen participation and increase and maintain transparency, accessibility, and accountability (Bertot, Jaeger, and Grimes, 2012; Jones and de Guzman, 2011).
While there is limited research into the impact of e-government and e-policing programs on anti-corruption efforts, these systems seem to be a promising strategy for improving information flow, a critical component of anti-corruption work. The committee acknowledges that there are constraints to implementing new or existing technologies in areas where there is
lower capacity for supporting such tools. In their first report, the committee wrote that
[r]esearch suggests that new technologies can serve important roles in accountability systems—capturing, tracking, and even analyzing data in efficient ways that will help monitor policing activities. However, this depends on how these technologies are used in practice, the strength and supervision of implementation policies, and whether citizens and the police share similar expectations about those technologies. For example, body-worn cameras may be effective in collecting data on police interactions and holding officers accountable to [the rule of law] and human rights standards. However, this effectiveness relies on community acceptance, enforcement of policies that require police to turn on and use the cameras, and policies and processes that fairly determine handling of data from cameras and any infractions and subsequent discipline (NASEM, 2021, p. 7).
While e-government and e-policing services have the potential for reducing corruption, the implementation of these services is still a challenge in developing countries (Joshi and Islam, 2018). Despite the obstacles, many countries with limited resources, such as Nigeria, have turned to e-government as a tool to fight corruption within public service. Political and bureaucratic corruption has plagued Nigeria for decades, causing enormous damage across multiple sectors and agencies and obstructing the delivery of effective and efficient public services within the country (Abdulkareem, Ishola, and Abdulkareem, 2021; Nageri, Umar, and Abdul, 2013). The Nigerian government began investing in e-government processes in the early 2000s to improve public service delivery and tackle corruption (Abdulkareem and Ishola, 2016). The National Information and Technology Development Agency was established in 2003 to drive implementation throughout the country (Abdulkareem, Ishola, and Abdulkareem, 2021). Throughout the 2010s, e-government in Nigeria expanded through the introduction of services including the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information Systems (GIFMIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and a few public reporting and checking mechanisms (Abdulkareem, Ishola, and Abdulkareem, 2021; Ojo, 2019).
An empirical assessment of ICT deployment in the public service in Nigeria found that it holds great potential as an anti-bureaucratic corruption driver and that it has been able to curb bureaucratic corruption by monitoring the finances of various government agencies through the TSA application (Abdulkareem, Ishola, and Abdulkareem, 2021). The same study also found that the GIFMIS and IPPIS have effectively regulated “ghost workers syndrome” and contributed immensely to boosting
government revenue. Yet these successes came with challenges, the most notable being an infrastructure gap and general resistance from public servants toward the use of ICT. To mitigate this, investment in infrastructure is critical, as is an investment and continual education for civil servants on the use of ICT (Abdulkareem, Ishola, and Abdulkareem, 2021).
For various reasons, e-policing is in the early stages of adoption across many developing countries. Many have limited funding for ITC, and even less funding for the training and upkeep required to properly utilize these tools (Joshua et al., 2021). A lack of ICT infrastructure also prevents many law enforcement agencies from implementing e-policing. For example, in Nigeria, most police departments, formation headquarters, and stations lack internet connectivity, and general internet usage and literacy throughout the country are low (Simon, 2021). However, Nigeria has already begun to use e-policing methods to reduce traffic gridlock in Lagos State (Joshua et al., 2021; Oluwole and Akoko, 2019). The adoption of e-policing is seen as a sign of institutional growth and of strengthening government and citizen participation in public security (Castro and Lopes, 2022; Joshua et al., 2021).
While far from complete, the case study examples from varying countries in this chapter illustrate that multiple approaches have succeeded in achieving measurable reductions in corruption, at least at the medium to high level of political power. There are cases of police and law enforcement engagement in anti-corruption initiatives at local, national, as well as international levels. The specific tools deployed varied across countries, including policy, legislation, media messages, and cultural changes. But successful cases included some common elements, tailored as necessary to their individual context.
These common elements included the following features:
- stakeholders mobilization;
- police collaboration with other sectors such as justice, health care, or finance;
- improving information collection, such as opening hotlines and tiplines;
- changing political factors, such as new leadership or enacted legislation; and
- allowing time for progress.
None of these gains in addressing corruption happened overnight. Anti-corruption efforts may require multiple years to build momentum on small wins.
These elements and factors contributing to those wins cannot be understood without further research and granular analysis of the processes by which the intelligence is discovered and institutions decide to investigate. The quest for contextual or structural bases for strengthening policing institutions against high-level corruption must go deeper than just describing the legal systems as civil or common law. Research must examine the mechanisms of corruption and the ensuing investigations. Research must address the changing political contexts within countries. It is very difficult to fight corruption without political support. While efforts can be made to change policing tactics or technologies without support from the head of state, it cannot guarantee success in combatting high-level corruption. Under most circumstances, buy-in from the government is critical. The support of the dominant regime is required because if institutions like the police are to investigate people or systems they need the authority to do so.