Patricia Scotland calls for Commonwealth-wide anti-corruption unit
The new head of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, has today called for the creation of a new unit working across the 53 nation group to fight corruption.
Scotland, who became Commonwealth secretary-general earlier this month, said in a speech today that “collaboration and cooperation between different nation states will be critical if we are to successfully meet the challenge bribery and corruption creates for us all.”
As a mechanism to facilitate that collaboration, she proposes the creation of a Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, through which member states would be able to “craft the templates for legislation and best practice implementation to strengthen public safety and provide an excellent framework for legal support services throughout the Commonwealth.”
These templates, Scotland, who was UK attorney-general between 2007 and 2010, said, “will strengthen public safety and services throughout the Commonwealth.”
Addressing senior judges and Commonwealth high commissioners, at Inner Temple in London today, Scotland said member states should “develop a kitemark or yardstick against corruption” which should be used to identify which bodies, institutions, and entities are adhering to best practice and eventually create international standards for compliance of good procurement practice.
She added that the standards “can be used by anyone” and “will help strengthen oversight of finances for businesses, institutions, the public sector, local government and the private sector.”
Creating best practice toolkits, she said, “empowers our member governments to be on the front foot against corruption and fraud in their jurisdictions.”
Scotland is the sixth secretary-general of the Commonwealth and the first ever woman to be appointed into the role.
She was the first black woman to be a QC [a senior barrister appointed on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor] and the only woman to be attorney-general since the post was created in 1315.
Before being appointed attorney-general, she held various ministerial roles under the Labour government including minister of state for criminal justice and offender management from 2003 to 2007.
Scotland, who was born in a small village on the Caribbean island of Dominica, to a Dominican mother and Antiguan father and brought up in north-east London, describes herself as a “classic child of the Commonwealth.”
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