9 December marks the International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD). To celebrate IACD 2017, Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) organized a number of people and youth engagement activities promoting the message: Together against corruption. TIB called upon the Government to create enabling environment for the anti-corruption fighters, so that anti-corruption fighters and researchers can smoothly broaden the anti-corruption social movement. Those entrusted to fight corruption such as the Judiciary, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the law-enforcing agencies are able to discharge their duties without fear or favor, TIB demanded.
In a weeklong diverse set of events to celebrate IACD 2017 in both local and national level, from oath-taking to human rallies and competitions, people and youths from all walks of society with TIB’s stakeholders pledged to eradicate the menace collectively. In different campaigns like airing anti-bribery TVC and bus branding to increase mass awareness, anti-corruption messages, cartoons and ways of tackling corruption were highlighted.
The significant moment of this year’s celebration was marked with success of TIB’s persistent advocacy for years as for the first time, Government of Bangladesh (GoB) officially observed the IACD, decision taken on 10th July 2017 by the Cabinet. To mark the IACD, Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Deputy Commissioners joined hands with TIB to observe the IACD officially on 9 December 2017 by organizing human chains in their respective 64 districts highlighting the key message: Together against Corruption.
TIB-inspired YES members under Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCCs) in 45 locations of the country observed the day using various social accountability tools, including various cultural events, video show, rallies, human chain, bi-cycle rally and discussion meetings. YES members joined in human chains, rallies, signature campaigns and various awareness-raising activities demanding enabling environment for the anti-corruption fighters to strengthen the movement.
On 9 December, hundreds of anti-corruption activists in participation with TIB staff and young volunteers of TIB-inspired Youth Engagement Support (YES) groups under different universities in Dhaka convened in an anti-corruption human chain in in front of Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. The participants pledged to continue the fight against corruption with demands to ensure transparency and accountability in all levels.
Followed by the human chain, six cartoonists and three photographers were awarded for their outstanding contribution to the promotion of anti-corruption messages using the creative art forms of cartoons and photos in Anti-Corruption Cartoon and Photo Competition and Exhibition 2017 organized at Jainul Gallery, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.
At the award-giving ceremony, terming corruption as ‘anti-development, the Chief Guest H.E. Mr. René Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh, appreciated the courageous role of the cartoonists and photographers for generating a strong collective voice and creating greater awareness and motivation among the young generation to Say No to Corruption through their beautiful art works. Commending the Government of Bangladesh for officially observing the IACD from this year, Ms. Refika Hayta, Charge d'Affaires of the the Royal Danish Embassy in Bangladesh said, satirical and real life presentation of facts, stories and messages depicted by cartoonists and photographers provide a strong collective voice for change. Referring to long-standing partnership with TIB, Ms. Aislin Baker, Team Leader Governance, DFID Bangladesh lauded the use of cartoons and photos as effective tools for sensitization for creating awareness and developing a sense of responsibility and commitment among the youths of Bangladesh.
At the same time, the week-long exhibition comprising 57cartoonsand 21photographswas also inaugurated. A total of 273 cartoonists under two age categories: 13-18 years, and 19-25 years, sent a total of 469 cartoons entries for the 12th competition. Besides, 87 photographers, both professional and amateur sent 223 entries for the 3rd anti-corruption photo competition.
Later in the evening of the same day, a three-day anti-corruption moot court competition, first of its kind ended with the final round, the award-giving and concluding ceremony held at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, University of Dhaka. TIB collaborated with Dhaka University Moot Court Society (DUMCS) DUMCS, the Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka for enhancing awareness among law students on anti-corruption legal regime among the students of law faculties throughout Bangladesh.
In the competition, the participants underscored the need for acquiring knowledge on anti-corruption laws to ensure successful prosecution of corruption cases. Mr. Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain, Hon’ble Judge, High Court Division, of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh attended as the Chief Guest of the event while Mr. Justice Md. Miftah Uddin Choudhury, Hon’ble Judge, High Court Division, of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed, Hon’ble Judge, High Court Division, of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh along with others were present at the event.
Observing that effective conviction will deter indulgence of corrupt practices by the powerful people, TIB’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman thanked the Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka for extending collaborative support for organizing such innovation competition, which is considered to be first among more than 100 chapters of Transparency International. A total of 16 universities, among which three are public, competed in the anti-corruption moot court competition while Judges of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh adjudicated in different rounds of the competition.
Barendra University team from Rajshahi became the Champion in the competition defeating the Runner-Up University of Dhaka. University of Chittagong team won the Spirit of the moot award and while the Best Memorial award was bagged by University of Dhaka team. Sanjana Huq Miftah from University of Chittagong team became the best Mooter, and Md. Zahid-Al-Mamun from university of Dhaka team became the Best Researcher of the competition that began on 7th December at the department of Law Faculty, University of Dhaka, inaugurated by Professor Dr. Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka.
In the evening, six television channels broadcast a60-second anti-bribery commercialhighlighting integrity issues in the recruitment in the country.
Earlier the IACD 2017 observance began with anti-corruption oath-taking, held in the morning of 5 November at the Central Shahid Minar, Dhaka. Wearing green caps and badges with ‘Together against Corruption’ message, hundreds youngsters from various parts of the capital joined this colorful anti-corruption oath-taking event. Committing to have the highest regard for the independence, sovereignty, culture and values for Bangladesh, these youngsters pledged that they shall refrain from adopting any dishonest means in all aspects of academic and professional life and shall discharge their responsibilities with integrity and accountability.
Advocate Sultana Kamal, Chair, Board of Trustees of TIB administered the anti-corruption oath. Observing that the invincible youth can steer fundamental change, she urged all including to youth to play their due role to reduce ill-effects of corruption from the society. Commending the Government of Bangladesh for officially observing IACD from this year, TIB’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman underscored the need for bringing the corrupt into justice by implementing political commitment of the Government to control corruption.
On 7 December, TIB organized a media Dialogue on Investigative Journalism in anti-corruption movement at its Head office where reputed journalists and media personalities discussed on the challenges and prospects of investigative journalism in Bangladesh. The discussants stressed on government’s encouraging assistance on identifying the internal corrupt officials and prohibitors which eventually would result in favor of government in keeping its political will to control corruption. Citing the prevailing dismal atmosphere regarding freedom of speech in the country, the discussants urged to ensure enabling environment for the journalists to establish good governance and accountability in all level as investigative journalism is a proven tool in corruption prevention and ensuring transparency.
Urging the media to exercise caution when dealing with government officials involved in corruption, Chief Guest of the event Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to Prime Minister, said that journalists played a vital role in Bangladesh, and if people from the government did not understand that, it was their failure. “Poverty can never be alleviated from a country where there is corruption, and therefore we have to stay alert against those people as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given clear instruction that we have to alleviate poverty from Bangladesh,” Dr Rizvi said emphatically.
TIB announced the winners of the Investigative Journalism (IJ) Awards 2017 where five journalists and four camerapersons of print and electronic media were selected for the awards. Arup Roy from the daily ProthomAlo and H M Alauddin from the daily Purbanchal won the awardsin two categories of print media: national and regional.In total, seven journalists comprising three reporters Md. Badruddoza, Md. Shabuj Mahmud, Md. Zahidmamor Islam Saad and four camerapersons Mehedi Hasan Sohag, Golam Kibria, Rakibul Hasan, Tanvir Mizan from the electronic media were selected for the awards in two categories of electronic media: TV report and TV documentary where Md. Shabuj Mahmud and Md. Zahid Mamor Islam Saad jointly won the award in the documentary category. Each award winning journalist was awarded with cheque worth BDT 1 lac, a crest and a certificate of honor; and each cameraperson was awarded with cheque worth BDT fifty thousand, a crest and a certificate of honor.