The integrity, legitimacy and functioning of public bodies suffer when corrupt practices occur. However, whilst corruption is not an inevitable operational cost, public bodies have had a reactive rather than proactive approach to corruption prevention viewing it as a collateral activity given due consideration only upon occurrence. Corruption opportunities were not systematically identified and measures to support organisations in increasing their orientation to the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability were lacking.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA) 2002 to fight corruption in Mauritius. It is mandated to:
(i) Educate the public against the dangers of corruption
(ii) Conduct investigation on complaints of corruption
(iii) Exercise vigilance and superintendence on integrity systems
For the purpose of the Award, two public sector organizations, namely the Civil Status Division (CSD) and the Mauritius Police Force (MPF), have been chosen to reflect the implementation of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Framework (PSACF). The CSD is responsible for vital registration (registration of birth, death, marriage) and issue of civil status certificates whilst the MPF is responsible for, amongst others, law enforcement with respect to road traffic offences.
Complaints of alleged corruption received at the ICAC regularly involve public officials of the CSD and MPF, amongst others. As from 2006, the number of complaints received is as follows:
ORGANISATION NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
MPF 2 4 9 7 11 9
CSD 4 3 12 6 6 3
The recurrent corruption opportunities prevailing at these institutions are:
S/N CSD MPF
1. High autonomy and demands from the public leading to bribery for:
• prompt certificate delivery;
• celebration of marriages. Screening of offenders from punishment against gratification with respect to road traffic offences
2. Abuse of office for gratification to celebrate marriage of minor less than 16 years (which is illegal in Mauritius). Bribery in the issue of contraventions due to high discretionary power of officers
3. Favouritism in posting officers to offices where registration of marriage between foreigners is high. Non-recording of contraventions issued against gratification
4. Misuse of office in regional offices due to unlimited autonomy and discretion of officers in the exercise of their functions Absence of a comprehensive database on contraventions leading to bribery in the processing of contraventions
5. Inefficient use of the computerized system leading to tampering of data for gratification
The corruption risks affect the population as they are denied of a free and fair public service. Moreover, corruption distorts government revenue and poses significant threats to public lives as it hinders the effective enforcement of road traffic laws.
Hence, Corruption Prevention Reviews (CPRs) are usually conducted by the ICAC to identify corruption risks and develop appropriate anti-corruption measures to address the identified loopholes. However, CPRs involve much ICAC resources in terms of manpower thus focus was limited to addressing specific problem areas.
Consequently CPRs were found to be time consuming and sustaining corruption resistance depended heavily on ICAC rather than the public body.