21 September 2008

National network on anti-corruption established to combat corruption, enhance good governance

East Timor's National Parliament has established a national network on anti-corruption. The initiative is a result of a two-day conference which aimed to create a network of parliamentarians and independent State institutions dedicated to combating corruption and enhancing good governance.

The President of the Sub-Committee on Anti-Corruption, Cipriana da Costa Pereira told participants at the opening session that corruption is more than a threat to democracy, as it also undermines economic development, violates social justice, and destroys State institutions. “Corruption is the biggest barrier to the poor being able to have access to opportunities for basic services provided by the State,” she said.

The anti-corruption network is seen as a platform on which to build alliances with other stakeholders and mobilize people from the grassroots to all levels of Government to fight against corruption. It intends to educate the public about the existence and threat of corruption, support communities to follow up on publicly funded projects, and empower civil society to mobilize community action, generate political commitment, and promote integrity and good governance. Organizers expect that the network will make a significant contribution to the drafting of a law on anti-corruption. It could also pave the way for the Parliament to join regional and global coalitions and parliaments dedicated to good governance and combatting corruption.

The meeting was attended representatives of the highest levels of government including by President José Ramos-Horta, President of National Parliament Fernando 'Lasama' de Araujo, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, and members of Parliament, as well as representatives of the Government, United Nations, civil society, diplomatic corps, academia, private sector, media, and religious institutions.

The anti-corruption caucus, held from 18-19 September in the capital city Dili, was organized by Sub-Committee on Anti-Corruption, Committee C of the National Parliament, and funded by the National Parliament and the Australian Government/AusAID. UNDP’s Parliament Project provided support for the meeting.

Also: Primary school teachers trained on human rights education

In an effort to raise the awareness of primary school teachers on basic human rights concepts, principles, and standards, UNMIT’s human rights office has been conducting trainings across Timor-Leste on human rights education. The initiative also aims to show the teachers how to integrate human rights messages, principles and concepts in their daily Estudo do Meio lessons.

Primary school teachers were selected as an initial target audience for the training due to the importance of beginning human rights education at an early age, says Louis Gentile, who heads UNMIT’s Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section and represents the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Timor-Leste.

“The emphasis on ‘respect’ is already reflected in the primary school curriculum in Timor-Leste. But to fully understand respect and human dignity, education about human rights is vital,” he told the UNMIT Weekly. “When respect for human rights is encouraged at an early age, there is a high probability that the knowledge and skills will remain with the child for life. This can contribute to long-term peace, security and stability of any nation, including Timor-Leste,” he added.

UNMIT expects to introduce human rights education to at least 350 primary school teachers by December 2008. To date, training sessions have been conducted in Dili, Liquica, Manatuto, Lautem, Viqueque, Baucau, Covalima, Bobonaro, Ermera, Manufahi, Ainaro, and Aileu districts, with the next session scheduled in Oecusse from 2225 September.

The project is a collaborative effort of UNMIT, the Ministry of Education, and the Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice, with funding provided by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNDP.

From the English language version of the UNMIT Weekly No 59 available at http://unmit.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=221&language=en-US

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