The fight against corruption is gathering momentum in the House of Representatives, following the passage, by the Senate on 22 August 2013, of the Code of Conduct.
This step represents a milestone in Liberian History, as the Code will conscientize all public officials and employees about good governance principles as they exercise their duties to the Liberian People and the State. The Legislature, civil society groups and the Governance Commission, which crafted the Bill, have thrown their weight behind the Code of Conduct Bill.
The Governance Commission, a key player behind the Code of Conduct Bill, was set up as the Governance Reform Commission in 2003 during the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement “to address the overarching issues of governance in Liberia” by leading governance reforms through policy recommendations and implementation strategies that advance good governance reforms.
“The Act of the National Legislature that created the Governance Commission mandates the institution “to promote good governance by advising, designing and formulating appropriate policies and institutional arrangements and frameworks required for achieving good governance and promoting integrity at all levels of Society and within every public and private institution”.
Congratulating members of the Liberian Senate on the occasion of the passage of the Bill, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission, said: “I am deeply gratified that the Senate has passed the National Code of Conduct Bill. Special thanks to those members who managed the Bill throughout the process leading to its passage, especially Senator Jewell Howard-Taylor and President Pro-Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley, who worked tirelessly with their colleagues for the passage of the Bill.
“We now call on members of the House of Representatives to concur with the Bill so it can be submitted to the President.”
The National Code of conduct was drafted by the Governance Commission and submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for onward submission to the National Legislature. It is comprehensive and applicable across all branches of the Liberian Government.
“Among other things, it prohibits all public officials from “placing themselves under any financial obligations or other situations of conflict that impair, or are likely to impair, the performance of their official duties”.
All public officials and employees are required by the Code of Conduct to declare any private interests and take steps to prevent conflict of interests, deception or any undue influence for the sake of personal gain. They are admonished to refuse to obey orders that are known to be wrong or unlawful and follow rules and procedures consistent with the Freedom of Information Act in the delivery of services to the public.
The Bill prohibits divulging classified information to anyone except for those authorized by the Freedom of Information Act to receive such information, calls on public officials and employees to be role models, and to hire and promote employees based on merit rather than on political favoritism.
According to the Code of Conduct, all appointed officials “shall not engage in political participation activities during working hours or use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of political activities, or serve on any campaign team of any political party”.
The Governance Commission Chairman, Dr Amos C. Sawyer, expressed the Commission’s keen interest in the outcome of the Corrupt Offenses Bill, another Governance Commission-crafted Bill, which complements the National Code of Conduct and covers bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of office, among others.
Meanwhile, the Governance Commission is inviting representatives of media organizations to a News Conference at 2pm on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at its 9th Street, Sinkor Conference Room to brief them about other draft legislation that have been completed and now under consideration for submission to the National Legislation. Journalists will get a synopsis of the legislation, their importance, as well as updates on other key activities of the Governance Commission.