Legal Adviser at Amnesty International in London, UK, Dr. Kolawole Olaniyan, has canvassed for a comprehensive and complementary legal framework that addresses the criminal law dimension of the problem and contributes to holding states accountable for the human rights violations that stem from corruption.
Olaniyan, who is also a board member of the Socio Economic Rights and Advocacy Project (SERAP), focused on this issue in a yet-to-be released publication, which focuses on corruption in Africa.
The new book, titled â€˜Corruption and Human Rights Law in Africaâ€™ (First Edition) provides a framework for complementarity between promoting and protecting human rights and combating corruption.
The seven chapters in the detailed book make three major points regarding the relationship between corruption and human rights law.
To Olaniyan, â€œFirst, corruption per se is a human rights violation, insofar as it interferes with the right of the people to dispose of their natural wealth and resources and thereby increases poverty and frustrates socio-economic development.
â€œSecond, corruption leads to a multitude of human rights violations. Third, the book demonstrates that human rights mechanisms have the capacity to provide more effective remedies to victims of corruption than can other criminal and civil legal mechanisms.â€
It (book) takes up one of the pervasive problems of governance — large-scale corruption — to examine its impact on human rights and the degree to which a human rights approach to confronting corruption can buttress the traditional criminal law response.
It examines three major aspects of human rights in practice — the importance of governing structures in the implementation and enjoyment of human rights, the relationship between corruption, poverty and underdevelopment, and the threat that systemic poverty poses to the entire human rights edifice.
The book focuses on Africa, and it analyses the effects of corruption on the human rights and peoplesâ€™ rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights.
According to Olaniyan, a coherent and consistent framework has not yet been developed to reflect and build on the relationship between corruption and human rights law. Standards and laws relating to corruption are still narrowly conceived as an infringement against the state and not the individual victims.
â€œThis lack of accountability has resulted in the sporadic and lenient prosecution and punishment for officials carrying out large-scale corruption, while, conversely, offering severe sanctions for petty corruption so as to give the impression of justiceâ€, he added.
The primary focus of the book is public sector large-scale (also called political) corruption, which occurs when high-ranking state officials abuse their entrusted positions to convert public treasuries into private gain.
The book aims to examine the effectiveness of the criminal law instruments against corruption, and if they are unsatisfactory, to consider the role human rights law might play to address any deficiencies.
According to the legal expert, â€œGiven the high costs of corruption on human rights, it is important to develop a comprehensive and complementary legal framework that addresses the criminal law dimension of the problem and contributes to holding states accountable for the human rights violations that stem from corruption.â€
Also, Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty, stated that, â€œCorruption is a scourge of the world today, damaging human rights and deepening poverty and inequality. Kolawole Olaniyan has powerfully portrayed corruption as a violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
â€œIn this timely work, Olaniyan shows how the Charter can serve as a solid legal framework to complement the traditional but often less effective criminal law instrument against corruption. The book focuses on Africa but its legal analysis will resonate wherever corruption exists. This book is an important contribution to the corruption and human rights debate– and hopefully should help create changeâ€, Shetty added.