Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weed out corruption from the judiciary

Here is a good story from Brazil. Yes, the same Brazil so many of us Maldivians supported during the World Cup. Yes, the South American country which is miles and miles away, but so special to football fans in several islands of the Maldives. Brazil has passed a “clean record” law that bans any politician convicted of corruption and money laundering from running for office.

The law was passed after Avaaz launched the largest online campaign in Brazilian history, building a petition of over 2 million signatures. They orgnised 500,000 online actions, and made tens of thousands of phone calls. With nearly 25% of the Brazilian Congress under investigation for corruption, most people assumed the law would never pass. But Avaaz made the impossible possible. Who is Avaaz, you may ask.

Avaaz is a global campaign network powered by 5.5 million people. Harnessing the power of Internet, they carry out campaigns on global issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change and corruption. This is what Avaaz says about their recent success story in Brazil:

Avaaz members fought corrupt congressmen daily as they tried every trick in the book to kill, delay, amend, and weaken the bill, and won the day every time. The bill passed Congress, and already over 330 candidates for office face disqualification!

One Brazilian member wrote to us when the law was passed, saying:

I have never been as proud of the Brazilian people as I am today! Congratulations to all that have signed. Today I feel like an actual citizen with political power. -- Silvia

Our strategy in Brazil was simple: make a solution so popular and visible that it can’t be opposed, and be so vigilant that we can’t be ignored.

This victory shows what our community can do - at a national level, in developing nations, and on the awful problem of corruption. Anywhere in the world, we can build legislative proposals to clean up corruption in government, back them up with massive citizen support, and fight legislators who try to block them.

France's Le Monde called our "impressive and unprecedented petition" campaign a "spectacular political and moral victory for civil society." And while this victory may be a first, we can make it the precedent for global citizen action.

We, the citizens of the Maldives, can learn from this success story and rejuvenate our efforts to ensure a clean judiciary. The deadline for appointing judges under the Article 285 of the constitution will expire on August 7. The majority of members of Judicial Service Commission (JSC) do not feel it important enough to appoint clean and efficient judges. The criteria set by JSC means judges who have criminal records will be in charge of our judiciary. Under standards adopted by JSC, judges who have records of corruption could be sitting in Supreme Court. Concerned citizens have been raising their voices for sometime. Yet the voices of concern are being ignored. Aishath Velezinee, a member of the JSC, has been campaigning for judicial reform for months. She is exposing the corruption and lethargy within JSC. The forces of corruption are at times ignoring and at times ridiculing her. A group of civil society organisations have collected over 1,500 signatures from the public urging JSC to revise its criteria for appointing judges. However, the JSC has till today ignored the petition from the JUST campaign. Article 285 is being ignored.

What is the choice we have? Should we, the concerned citizens, accept defeat in gloom? Or should we learn a lesson from Brazil and renew our efforts to ensure our future generations inherit a clean judiciary? This is not an issue between MDP and DRP, even though MDP activists did stage protests against the JSC during the past two days. A number of impartial and non-partisan citizens have been expressing concerns about the inherent problems within the judiciary for months. If you value the importance of a clean and efficient judiciary, you have to think beyond the lines of your political party. We reiterate the fact that this is not about MDP and DRP. This is an issue about the future of our nation. That is why we urge all of you, members of all political parties, and citizens who are not affiliated with any party, to work sincerely to ensure a functional judiciary.

The next few days are crucial. Please join Article 285 on Facebook. Please post this blog article on Facebook. Meet your Member of Parliament. Express your concern about the JSC failing to do its job. Send letters. Call the members of JSC. Hundreds of phone calls can make a difference. In the next few days protests are essential as well.


Anonymous said...

its nice to create face book groups and blogs and voice your opinions. does it make a difference. No. A big no. dictators dont get pressured that way. the parliment is hijacked by old dictarship. the judiciary is the last man eating dinorsur standing. parliment wants to protect this dinorusr at all costs so that dictatorship will flourish. this country is for the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen. The time has come to bring this campaign one level higher. Here is JSC Chair Mujthaz Fahmy's mobile phone number: 7778111, Mujthaz Fahmee, Afza, Lainoofaru Magu, Maafannu, Male. Please call him to express your disgust about the way he is robbing us of a clean judiciary. If he does not answer the phone, send an SMS. No obscenities needed. Just honest phone calls from concerned citizens. Please also Join the campaign to reform the judiciary by joining Article 285