Real Lives, Real Stories: Bangladesh

This is the second story of our new series Real Lives, Real Stories, written by staff from our national chapters in the Asia Pacific region. Stories about different people and different situations in different contexts, but with one common message: change is possible when citizens get involved, even when the odds seem stacked against them.

Today’s story is from Bangladesh, where one of our largest national chapters is keeping up the fight against corruption.

On 9 December 2017, International Anti-Corruption Day was officially observed in Bangladesh for the first time. Thanks to the persistent advocacy of Transparency International Bangladesh, the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Deputy Commissioners joined hands with our organisation to observe the day officially, by organising human chains in their 64 respective districts to highlight our key message: Together Against Corruption.

It has not been an easy journey. The government has been critical inside and outside of Parliament about many of our research findings.

In 2011, three court cases were filed against TI Bangladesh for allegedly defaming the judiciary for its findings in the National Household Survey Report of 2010. An arrest warrant was issued for the Chair, Executive Director and the lead researcher.

A 2012 study published by TI Bangladesh found that 97 per cent of Members of Parliament were involved in illegal activities, with 77 per cent abusing their positions on local election boards, 75 per cent abusing development projects for their own benefit, 53 per cent being involved in outright criminal acts, 69 per cent influencing procurement decisions, and 62 per cent influencing local elections.

In 2015, one Member of Parliament threatened to close down TI Bangladesh for remarks we made on the effectiveness of the Parliament. Also, we have often not agreed with the ACC on many issues, in spite of the fact that we were jointly behind the creation of the anti-corruption body.

Over the years, our anti-corruption advocacy programmes, widespread civic engagement and policy stances have established our image as an uncompromising body in the fight against corruption. This eventually brought the ACC and TI Bangladesh together.

When we entered into a formal partnership in 2015, public expectation was that we would make a significant contribution in terms of turning the ACC into a more effective body.

International Anti-Corruption Day will now be marked in Bangladesh on 9 December every year. This breakthrough approval emerged as the outcome of four years’ worth of relentless advocacy led by us and the Government of Bangladesh, including direct contact with the Prime Minister’s Office.

The official celebration adds strength to our advocacy initiatives and public engagement with the movement against corruption.

With continuous anti-corruption advocacy initiatives, an objective stance on policy issues and lobbying of relevant ministries and government departments, we are poised to further strengthen the Bangladesh government’s anti-corruption stance and create an environment for achieving good governance.

Culled from: Transparency International