The Integrity Commission is one of Iraq’s three main anti-corruption bodies. In December 2009 they released their report for 2008. It showed that while the number of cases it has dealt with has gone up each year, very few actually lead to convictions.
The Integrity Commission was created by the United States in 2004. Since then it has presented 12,976 cases to court. Of those, only 937 went to trial, resulting in a paltry 396 convictions in four years. In 2008 the Commission got 5,031 reports of corruption, presented 3,027 of those to an investigative judge, issued 630 arrest warrants, and detained 417. Of those, only 97 were convicted.
Besides a lack of evidence, interference by ministers and the 2008 Amnesty Law are two other factors leading to the paucity of convictions. The Amnesty Law was meant to foster reconciliation, but also had an exemption for corruption. As a result, 1,552 cases have been dropped, mostly from the Interior Ministry. Article 136B of the Constitution also allows top officials at each ministry to stop investigations. In 2008 this happened 70 times. That was actually a decrease from 2007 when the ministries involved the article132 times. Since 2005 Article 136B has been used 211 times.
The Interior, Municipalities and Public Works, Health, and Justice ministries got the most complaints and cases of corruption in 2008. There were 788 reports against the Interior Ministry, 659 against the Municipalities Ministry, and 269 against the Health Ministry. The Interior Ministry also had the most criminal cases against it with 736, followed by 400 against the Municipalities Ministry, and 249 against the Justice Ministry. Most of these dealt with public servants exceeding their duties in some capacity, forgery, and bribes. From 2004-2008 Interior has also had the most convictions with 103. The Finance Ministry was second with 58, and the Defense Ministry was third with 54.
All of Iraq’s top officials are also supposed to provide financial disclosures to the Commission each year, but this has hardly ever happened. From 2005-2008 Iraq’s prime minister, deputy prime minister, president, two vice presidents, speaker of parliament, and deputy speaker combined have only provided their financial reports once, and that was the deputy speaker of parliament in 2006. Only 29 of Iraq’s 49 ministers or heads of government offices have consistently turned in their financial disclosures since 2004, and no members of parliament did so last year. In 2009 the Commission reported that only 37% of Iraq’s 275 parliamentarians turned over their records.
The Commission remains hard at work despite the many difficulties they face. In mid-December 2009 the former deputy minister of transportation was found guilty, and sentenced to eight years in prison for taking a bribe. A few days later three senior officials from the Trade Ministry were also given jail terms for embezzling millions of dollars from the food ration system. The problem is that these are only a handful of the thousands of examples of corruption that the government faces. Most of those found guilty are also low levels officials, rather than these types of high profile cases. Those at the top are simply not interested in this fight, so the Commission faces an uphill battle. The result is that Iraq remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Commission of Integrity, “Annual report for 2008,” December 2009
Inside Iraq, “Financial Disclosure,” McClatchy Newspapers, 12/4/09
Reuters, “Iraq chases many for corruption, catches few,” 12/23/09
- “Iraqi trade officials jailed for corruption,” 12/24/09
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