Citizens provided first-hand accounts of their experience with corruption and bribery to highlight the impact on an individual’s human rights and help participants understand the wide-ranging ramifications.
Every year, $1 trillion is paid in bribes and an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption worldwide, representing more than 5% per cent of global GDP. Corruption undermines democracy, governance, and human rights. In Myanmar, the effects of corruption are acutely felt by indigenous populations and women. Their geographic and social exclusion results in a lack of access to legal protections that are only compounded by the effects of corruption.
The Access to Justice Initiative (A2JI), with support from Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is working to address these challenges in Myanmar. A2JI, a consortium of more than 40 civil society organizations, is advocating for structural and policy reforms, including a focus on combatting corruption. In addition to regular awareness and training activities, A2JI conducted two events in recognition of International Anti-Corruption Day on Dec. 9th. This year’s theme was United Against Corruption for Development, Peace, and Security.
PRLP and A2JI conducted a panel discussion with 87 participants, bringing together civil society, Members of Parliament (MPs), and government officials. Panelists included the Chief Minister of Magway Region, MPs from the Hluttaw and Yangon Region, representatives from the Yangon Regional Rule of Law Coordination Body, and other regional officials. Citizens provided concrete examples of their experience with corruption in Myanmar and panelists discussed corruption issues, particularly in the justice sector, and took questions from the audience. This event sought to build connections between CSOs and the government and to provide a forum for advocacy against corrupt practices.
A2JI also conducted a public awareness raising event in Mahabandula Park, which included interactive games, a quiz show, entertainment, informational materials, and releasing balloons with slogans about combatting corruption. More than 250 people participated in the event, which was opened by U Maung Hla, Director General from the Anti-Corruption Commission. A Member of Parliament, Daw Kyi Pyar, and the A2JI Chair, U Nyi Aung, provided remarks to encourage citizens to take an active role in combatting corruption. These activities are building the capacity of CSOs to engage in public policy development and advocacy, as well as to promote more accountable justice sector institutions that protect human rights.