A collaborated effort between the People’s Republic of China and a number of Caribbean states to aggressively pursue corruption on all fronts was the centre of discussion during a two-day conference, which ended on Tuesday at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort in St. Georges.
The China-Caribbean Conference on Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Cooperation as it was called, sought to provide greater leverage to law enforcement authorities in the participating countries to aggressively pursue persons suspected of corrupt practices at all levels locally while at the same creating a barrier, whereby suspected corrupt individuals would not be welcomed in another country.
Addressing the conference on the opening day was Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who dubbed the initiative a welcome one to the region, one that signaled a combined resolve to fight corruption and jointly tackle the issue of cross-border practices that seek to undermine good governance, good business and general financial services in the respective countries.
The Grenadian Prime Minister expressed the hope that the region would take a unified approach with an unwavering determination to work collaboratively to safeguard mutual law enforcement and anti-corruption interest in moving forward.
Mitchell reiterated the fact that corruption impairs social fairness and justice, undermines the image and creditability of countries and their governments and hinder economic and sustainable development. Additionally, he said, corruption undermines the rule of law and marginalizes people, a greater reason he said for countries to have ongoing cooperation in anti-corruption efforts.
The Grenadian leader went on to say that cooperation in the anti-corruption present yet another opportunity for Grenada and China to deepen their relationship. He added that the recent introduction of a bill in the House of Representative that addresses the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty, signed between the Government of Grenada and the Peoples Republic of China would give greater support to this new initiative.
Also addressing the conference on opening day was H.E. XU Lingyi, Vice Chairman of National Commission of Supervision of the People’s Republic of China who, like Prime Minister Mitchell viewed corruption as a scourge that damages government image and public trust and impacts the economic development and the realization of sustainable development goals.
The vice-chairman referred to corruption as a tumour to mankind and therefore to combat its existence he said should be a common task for all countries in the world.
He added that there is a need for comprehensive cooperation and the joining of hands to fight corruption thus allowing no chance for corrupt officials and proceeds to flee at large. The vice chairman said, base on sound cooperation the anti-corruption between China and the Caribbean States there will be more opportunities to yield practical results in the future.
With the evolution of information technology globally, the vice chairman said there is a greater frequency in transnational flow of corrupt persons and proceeds, with a move towards more diversified means to avoid legal punishments. Due to the complexity of the situation, mainly differences in political and legal systems, the vice-chairman said there would be challenges. However, he added, China is willing to provide greater support to further consolidate and strengthen of cooperation with a view to dealing with the situation.
Additionally, the vice chairman said, given the importance of the task at hand China has placed on the table a number of suggestions that could be considered with a view to achieving the main goal of dealing with corrupt practices.
Among those suggestions he said, participating countries must seek common grounds, put aside their differences, be it history, culture, national condition or otherwise to enhance consensus. Participating countries he said must respect such differences, take care of each other’s concerns, and find the most common interest, so as to achieve a win-win result.
Also placed on the table was the issue of improvement in countries’ political and legal systems and capacity building through bilateral and multilateral cooperation network, and follow the principles of reciprocity to promote the effectiveness of cooperation.
Participating countries he said need to set up cooperation mechanisms of information sharing, joint investigation and capacity building. Most importantly he said countries need to facilitate the cooperation in locating, prosecuting and repatriating corrupt suspects, as well as tracing, freezing, confiscating, and returning corruption proceeds, so as to achieve effective cooperation on fugitive repatriation and asset recovery.