The following article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul to The Korea Post media for publication.—Ed.
According to the United Nations Development Program, the annual volume of bribes is estimated at one trillion dollars. The global economy loses another $ 2.6 trillion due to corruption. These funds account for over five percent of global GDP. In developing countries, corruption-related losses are 10 times greater than official development assistance.
Corruption is a flaw that knows no boundaries. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, breeds inequality and injustice, impedes the functioning of the state apparatus, slows down economic processes and deforms, sometimes beyond recognition, the political system. As a result, transparency decreases, various “shadow schemes” appear, the opportunity to reveal the very fact of corruption is lost and “vicious circle” is formed.
All countries of the world, in one way or another, are engaged in the fight against corruption. No society is immune from corruption. According to the conclusion of the international non-governmental organization Transparency International, an enormous amount of work remains to be done to curb corruption. Thus, in the rating of the organization, two thirds of the countries of the world scored less than 50 points.
Uzbekistan in the Corruption Perception Index for 2019, compiled by Transparency International, took 153rd place out of 180, higher up to 5 positions compared to 2018. The country got 25 points on the 100-point index.
Undoubtedly, this figure is not a reason for pride. But the Republic is taking decisive steps to prevent and combat this extremely negative phenomenon to strengthen the legal and institutional framework. State policy provides a comprehensive study of the causes and conditions of corruption risks, timely detection and suppression of such offenses, ensuring the principle of inevitability of punishment. As a result, in the first half of 2020, 459 officials who have committed such crimes were brought to justice.
The legal foundation is also being formed. In January 2017, the Anti-Corruption Law came into force. Once every two years, state anti-corruption programs are approved, which include measures to minimize risks of corruption.
For example, within their framework, the laws “On public procurement”,
“On administrative procedures”, “On public-private partnership”,
“On the dissemination of legal information and ensuring access to it”, “On public control” were adopted. The administrative reform that is being implemented
in Uzbekistan is designed to ensure economic growth by reducing administrative restrictions on entrepreneurship and strengthening the anti-corruption component.
Moreover, for the furtherance of full-scale fight against corruption, in accordance with the abovementioned law, an Anti-Corruption Agency was created, subordinate directly to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The main areas of functioning of the Agency are, inter alia;
- providing a systematic analysis of the state and trends in the spread of corruption in the country, identifying areas most prone to corruption risks;
- introduction of a system of internal anti-corruption control (“compliance control”) and other international anti-corruption instruments in public and economic management bodies;
- the formation of an intolerant attitude towards corruption in society;
- ensuring the effectiveness of anti-corruption expertise of regulatory legal acts;
- anti-corruption control in the field of public procurement and the use of state budget funds;
- international cooperation, including within the framework of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan (OECD), strengthening the country's prestige, increasing its position in international rankings.
In Uzbekistan, legislative norms have also been improved in accordance with the UN Convention against Corruption and the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan.
In particular, the Republican Interdepartmental Anti-Corruption Commission has been created, the State Anti-Corruption Program for 2017-2018 has been implemented and the State Anti-Corruption Program for 2019-2020 has been approved. To strengthen parliamentary control in this area, anti-corruption committees have been established in the parliament and local Kengashes of people's deputies. They presented the results of a critical analysis of 26 departmental anti-corruption programs, their well-grounded opinions and proposals for their improvement.
The fight against corruption is primarily a matter of political will. If the state, together with the society, wants to resist corruption in the country, then the results will not be long in coming. The will – starting from heads of different levels to the average citizen of the country - is of great importance in the fight against corruption, which must move from the general to the particular, from the system to the individual.
The state bodies of Uzbekistan adopt and implement departmental anti-corruption programs aimed at countering corruption in their system.
In this context, the experience of the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan attracts special attention. The ministry approached this issue in a comprehensive manner, developing its own formula for combating corruption. At the end of 2018, it was decided to conditionally declare 2019 in the ministry as the year of personnel and the fight against corruption. Two key programs have been developed and approved - for work with human resources and anti-corruption. They are based on the best practices and experience of law enforcement agencies of foreign countries, which are rightfully considered the foremost in the world in the fight against corruption.
Thus, a practical system for managing conflicts of interest in the activities of employees has been introduced. A database of declarations of conflicts of interest for employees has been created. The well-established transparent system of selection, recruitment and certification of personnel in the bodies and institutions of justice made it possible to ensure fairness, honesty and impartiality, and the prevention of community and nepotism. Anti-corruption norms have been introduced into labor contracts.
The principles and methods of work were radically changed, which also contributed to the transformation of the worldview of personnel. In particular, employees' salaries have been tripled in two years. The logic is simple: an employee receiving a good salary will not risk losing his job, position, if his income is sufficient to cover his financial needs. A specialist, having “enriched himself” in an illegal way, will put a stigma on his professional reputation.
At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is focusing on creating an internal regulatory framework. In particular, on June 7, 2018, the Regulation on the procedure for the prevention of corruption offenses by employees of the justice authorities was adopted. The document defines the procedure for preventing corruption offenses by employees and the emergence of conflicts of interest, conducting raids and “secret client” events in order to monitor the provision of public services to the population.
The Regulation on the rules of ethical behavior of employees of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan was also approved, which provides for an increase in the legal consciousness and culture of employees of employees of justice bodies, the formation of their respect for the laws.
An anti-corruption program in the system of the Ministry of Justice and an anti-corruption policy have been adopted, and an anti-corruption council has been established. On May 20, 2019, the Regulation on rewarding employees of the justice authorities for reporting corruption was adopted. If a Ministry employee is caught committing corruption, the Ministry of Justice will terminate the employment contract with him.
The Ministry of Justice has introduced a compliance control system since October 2019 to further combat corruption. This is a set of measures to ensure compliance with applicable laws and internal standards of the organization. This includes the approval of relevant policies and procedures, effective information and training of personnel through regular trainings and testing, the use of compliance audits, investigations into the facts of violations identified, the occurrence of negative consequences for violators. The purpose of this system is to exclude any possibility of manifestation of factors of corruption on the ground.
As a result of fruitful cooperation with KPMG, a special project was launched, which provides for the transformation of the justice system into a sphere with a complete absence of corruption by comprehensively eliminating any corruption risks.
Along with this, a system of video and audio recording was introduced during the process of reception of representatives of legal entities and individuals in the justice authorities. In order to obtain operational information about the facts of corruption in the mobile messenger "Telegram" (popular in Uzbekistan), a special bot @antikorbot was created, where any user can send information about the facts of corruption in the justice authorities. The received data are checked by the competent structures of the ministry. Over the past period, more than 2 thousand messages have been received through this communication channel. On the basis of each of them, an official investigation was carried out, measures were taken against the guilty employees of the justice authorities.
Since 2019, special competitions have been held for the selection of highly qualified personnel. In the certification process, potential candidates go through a transparent system: the competitive selection process is broadcast live through the official website of the ministry, thereby ensuring effective public control.
The result of the transformations within the framework of the fight against corruption was the receipt by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan of an international certificate of conformity for combating corruption (ISO 37001). The international organization "CERT INTERNATIONAL" (Slovakia) studied the activities of the ministry in all areas.
The Ministry of Justice was the first among the state bodies of Uzbekistan which receive an assessment of compliance with the international standard ISO 37001:2016 "Anti-corruption management system" in all areas of activity and received a certificate that officially confirm that.
The anti-corruption management system of the Ministry of Justice consists of internal documents that meet the requirements of an international standard.
It ensures constant monitoring of the ministry's system. This certificate confirms that the anti-corruption system of the Ministry of Justice is well-established, complies with international standards, and contributes to the further development of dialogue and interaction with the population and international organizations.
An important factor in combating corruption is openness and transparency of activities. This is the reason for the launch of another program - "Open Justice".
It includes new approaches and mechanisms for informing the public about the activities of the ministry (from hiring process to information related to financial activities). The Ministry of Justice relies on the public to identify problems in the system that remain out of sight, employees who do not perform their duties at the proper level.
On the basis of the principles of openness and transparency, the offices (workplaces) in the building of the ministry are also structured. An "open space" format has been introduced, which allows monitoring the activities of employees of the Ministry of Justice.
All financial reports of the justice authorities are published in the public domain - on the official website of the ministry. They contain all the information on expenditures in the justice system, where, among other things, all public procurement contracts are posted.
In addition, a mechanism for reporting the results of the year has been developed by the justice authorities. At the end of 2018, this initiative was implemented and presented to the public in the form of a brochure entitled “Justice reports”.
The Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan has developed an effective departmental anti-corruption system. The dissemination of this practice in other state bodies of the republic will undoubtedly open up new opportunities for the development of the country, and will have a positive effect on Uzbekistan's positions in the Rule of Law Index, the Corruption Perceptions Index and in other international ratings.
Comprehensive work in this direction continues and among the priority tasks - the transformation of bodies and institutions into a sphere without corruption through the full implementation of measures provided for by the anti-corruption policy of the Ministry of Justice.
By Mr. Jumanyozov Nodir Khudayberdievich
Head of Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan,
PhD of the Chung-ang University of the Republic of Korea