More than 35 key stakeholders in the Justice system took part in a one-day awareness-raising workshop on Asset Recovery at the Serena Hotel.
The workshop, a joint venture between the Judicial Training Institute and Strengthening Uganda’s Anti-Corruption Response (SUGAR) programme.
Hon. Justice Richard Buteera of the Supreme Court opened the training on behalf of the Chief Justice.
In the opening remarks, the Chief Justice emphasized the need for asset recovery for people convicted of corruption.
“As a country, we have the relevant legal machinery to deal with this cancer (corruption) but critics have argued that merely convicting the corrupt without depriving them of what they acquired through corrupt tendencies is not sufficient. Such wealth should be recovered and the proceeds be remitted to state confers.”
Last year, Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi, a renowned anti-corruption crusader, revealed that Uganda is losing more than one trillion annually through corruption in public procurement deals. This view tallies with findings of the Auditor General and PPDA reports on the extent of corruption in public procurements.
High profile cases of corruption over time include the CHOGM saga in 2007 which became public in 2011 when high profile people including then-Vice President Gilbert Bukenya were implicated for mismanaging billions of shillings meant for the CHOGM summit, the Global Fund scandal in 2008 when money meant for malaria and tuberculosis drugs ended up in the pockets of a few, the NSSF Temangalo land purchase put then Security Minister Amama Mbabazi on spot, the Pension scandal of 2012 where Ugx.169 billion meant for pension was swindled, and the Kazinda scandal in Prime Minister’s Office in which billions of shillings was swindled in a syndicate involving several ministries.
Effective Asset Recovery is one of the high-level ambitions and a key focus of the SUGAR programme.
According to Ms. Janine Raunch, the Director Technical Advisory Facility SUGAR TAF, the decision to hold this training was based on the recognition that the “proceeds of corruption are the very essence of what perpetuates corrupt practices.”
The workshop whose overall aim was to raise the awareness about asset recovery and it’s potential effects was facilitated by Andrew Mitchell QC, an international asset recovery practitioner.
The workshop drew a cross-section of participants who included senior judicial officers, the Director of Public Prosecution as well as representatives from the Inspectorate of Government among others.
In 2015, the Government of Uganda and the Government of the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to implement a five-year Strengthening Uganda’s Anti-Corruption Response (SUGAR) programme.
Corruption in Uganda has been getting worse, according to the global Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Uganda was ranked 127th in 2010, 143 in 2011, 130 in 2012, 140 in 2013, and 142 in 2014. In terms of CPI, the higher the corruption, the higher is the ranking.Uganda ranked 151 of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) annual report conducted by Transparency International in 2016. In the report was launched early this year, Uganda scored 25% dropping 12 places from its position in the 2015 report.
John Saturday, the Director Capacity Building at PPDA told Daily Monitor that in 2014 up to 118 procurement audits were conducted in 118 entities and found that contracts worth Ugx. 3.1 billion were corruptibly awarded to pre-determined bidders.
Explaining why corruption in procurement has remained unmitigated, the 2016 PPDA report says “lack of evidence is a serious challenge given that the parties engaged in the vice have learnt to ensure they do not leave behind any “foot prints” that can provide clues in case an investigation was conducted.”