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Malawi

Executive Summary

Malawi is a multiparty democracy. Constitutional power is shared between the president and the 193 National Assembly members. In May 2019 elections were conducted for president, parliament, and local councils. In February the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of an opposition challenge, annulling the 2019 presidential election (leaving intact the parliamentary and local results). On June 23, a new presidential election was conducted, and opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera won 58 percent of the vote, returning the opposition to power for the first time in 26 years. The international community and donors congratulated Malawi on the strength of its democratic institutions and peaceful transition of power.

The Malawi Police Service, under the Ministry of Homeland Security, has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order. The Malawi Defense Force has responsibility for external security. The executive branch sometimes instructed the Malawi Defense Force to carry out policing or other domestic activities, such as disaster relief. The Malawi Defense Force commander reports directly to the president as commander in chief. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Members of the Malawi Police Service committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included: harsh and life-threatening prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; significant acts of corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for violence against women; and criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct.

In some cases the government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, but impunity remained a problem.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for conviction of corruption by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There was little criminal or professional accountability for those involved.

The government, in cooperation with donors, continued implementation of an action plan to pursue cases of corruption, review how the “Cashgate” corruption scandal occurred, and introduce internal controls and improved systems to prevent further occurrences. Progress on investigations and promised reforms was slow.

Corruption: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is the agency primarily responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases of official corruption. It also works to educate the civil service and public on anticorruption matters. As of November the bureau reported it completed 35 investigations and completed prosecution of 19 cases of which: 10 resulted in convictions, three were acquittals, three were dismissed, and one was discharged; two were civil cases where individuals unsuccessfully sued the ACB. The performance of the ACB was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, investigations could not be conducted effectively. In the 2020/21 national budget, the government increased the ACB budget by 39 percent that will allow an increase in staff and resources to investigate and prosecute cases.

In January 2019 one Cashgate trial involving 11 suspects concluded with 10 of the suspects convicted and one acquitted. The 10 were convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit a felony involving 201 million Malawian kwachas ($264,000) from the former Ministry of Disability and the Department of the Accountant General. In April 2019 the High Court sentenced three of the 10 to five years’ imprisonment each, four of the 10 to four years’ imprisonment each, and the last three of the 10 to three years’ imprisonment each.

The state’s corruption case against former president Bakili Muluzi, begun in 2006, remained stalled.

Financial Disclosure: The constitution requires the president, vice president, and members of the cabinet to disclose their assets in writing to the speaker of the National Assembly within three months of being elected or appointed. There is no requirement under the constitution for the speaker to make the declarations public or available to other members of parliament. The 2013 Public Officers’ (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act requires officials in 49 categories, ranging from the president, members of parliament, and senior officials down to specific categories of civil servants, including traffic police and immigration officers, to make financial disclosures. Noncompliance is grounds for dismissal, and individuals who knowingly provide inaccurate information may be fined, dismissed, or imprisoned.

In 2018 the director of public officers’ declarations wrote the president and the speaker of parliament recommending disciplinary action against a cabinet member and members of parliament for failure to comply with asset declaration statutes. No disciplinary measures had been carried out by November.

Under the law declarations filed by public officials are available to the public upon request, but the director of the Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations may refuse access to declarations that are not considered to be in the public interest. The refusal, however, may be appealed and reversed through a judicial review by the High Court.

Mongolia

Executive Summary

Mongolia is a multiparty parliamentary democracy governed by a democratically elected government. June 24 parliamentary elections were peaceful and generally considered free and fair, although several candidates during the election season were detained and prosecuted. In addition some observers expressed concern regarding allegations of vote buying.

The National Police Agency and the General Authority for Border Protection, which operate under the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, are primarily responsible for internal security. The General Intelligence Agency, whose director reports to the prime minister, assists these two agencies with internal security. The armed forces report to the Ministry of Defense and assist internal security forces in providing domestic emergency assistance and disaster relief. Civilian authorities maintained control over the security forces. Members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included: harsh prison conditions; threats against the independence of the judiciary; the existence of criminal libel laws; serious acts of official corruption; violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons; and forced child labor.

Government efforts to punish officials who committed human rights abuses were inconsistent.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

Corruption at all levels of government remained widespread. The politicization of anticorruption efforts presented an obstacle to effectively addressing corruption. The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not always implement the law effectively, and corruption continued at all levels. Some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The government implemented the fourth year of a six-year action plan to combat corruption, adopted in 2016. The criminal code contains liability provisions for corruption and corruption-related offenses for public servants and government officials. For example, the code dictates that those sentenced for corruption may not work in public service.

Corruption: During the year five former members of parliament, including a former cabinet minister and two former prime ministers, were convicted of abuse of power and official position in connection with various corruption cases investigated by the IAAC. They received sentences ranging from two to 10 years’ imprisonment and a ban on holding public office.

Financial Disclosure: The law requires civil servants and elected officials to report assets and outside sources of income for themselves, their spouses, parents, children, and live-in siblings. It also aims to prevent conflicts of interest between official duties and the private interests of those in public service roles, and to regulate and monitor conflicts of interest to specify that officials act in the public interest. The law requires candidates for public office to submit financial statements and questionnaires on personal business interests.

Public officials must file a private interest declaration with the IAAC within 30 days of appointment or election and annually thereafter during their terms of public service. The law provides that such declarations be accessible to the public and prescribes a range of administrative sanctions and disciplinary actions in case of violation. Violators may receive formal warnings, face salary reductions or fines, or be dismissed from their positions. The IAAC is required to review the asset declarations of public servants, including police officers and members of the military. As of September the IAAC made publicly available the financial disclosure short forms for 35,832 incumbent public officials.

Officials with authority to spend government funds are required to report expenditures and audit results on their ministry and agency websites. All transactions of more than one million tugriks ($350) are subject to reporting. Plans for budgets, loans, or bonds must be registered with the Ministry of Finance for monitoring and tracking, even after the originating officials have left their positions.

Sierra Leone

Executive Summary

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. In March 2018 the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party candidate, Julius Maada Bio, won the presidential elections. In January 2018 parliamentary elections, the All People’s Congress won a plurality of the seats. After the December 12 election re-run and by-elections, the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress each held 58 seats. Observers found these elections to be largely free and fair.

The Sierra Leone Police, which reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is responsible for law enforcement and maintains security within the country. The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces is responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities to assist police upon request in extraordinary circumstances. The armed forces report to the Ministry of Defense. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; serious acts of corruption; and criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct.

The government took some steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed abuses, but impunity persisted.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. During the year there were fewer reports of government corruption compared with 2019.

Corruption: During 2019 the Anticorruption Commission (ACC) indicted and charged more than 33 persons, convicted 16 individuals, and recovered more than 17.8 billion leones ($1.97 million) from corrupt government officials. On March 4, the High Court convicted Alfred Kallon, former Human Resource Officer at the Office of Administrator and Registrar General, on 34 counts of corruption offenses. Kallon was accused of using his office improperly to facilitate the issuance of official service passports for unauthorized individuals. Justice Miata Samba ruled that Kallon pay a substantial monetary fine of or serve three years in prison.

In 2019 a survey by Transparency International found that 52 percent of the residents of the country had paid a bribe for public services, with the highest rate of bribery for health services. In Transparency International’s previous 2015 survey, 41 percent reported paying bribes.

In May 2019 the judiciary assigned five high court justices to a new Anti-Corruption Court to deal with corruption cases brought by the ACC. During the year, these judges separately presided over anticorruption cases. In October 2019 parliament passed a law that increased penalties for corruption and provided the ACC with alternative powers to prosecution, including out-of-court settlements to recoup stolen monies. The law also strengthened protection for witnesses and whistleblowers in cases of corruption. During the year, Anti-Corruption Commissioner Kaifala stated that the provisions of the law had assisted in several continuing corruption investigations.

In April the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law published a perception survey indicating the SLP, Parliament, and Ministry of Health and Sanitation were the most corrupt institutions in the country.

Some police and guards exacted bribes at checkpoints, falsely charged motorists with violations, impounded vehicles to extort money, and accepted bribes from suspects to drop charges or to arrest their rivals and charge them with crimes. In exchange for kickbacks, police reportedly arrested persons for civil disputes, such as alleged breach of contract or failure to satisfy a debt.

Financial Disclosure: The law requires public officers, their spouses, and their children to declare their assets and liabilities within three months of assuming office, and according to the ACC, officials largely complied. The law further requires public officials to declare their assets no later than three months after the end of their employment.

The law also mandates disclosure of assets by government ministers and members of parliament. The ACC is empowered to verify asset disclosures and may publish in media the names of those who refuse to disclose and petition courts to compel disclosure. The particulars of individual declarations were not available to the public without a court order.

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