Tuesday, 7th July 2015 marked a turning point in the history of Uganda Debt Network (UDN)'s anti-corruption advocacy work with the passing of the Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill 2013 into Law by the 9th Parliament of Uganda. UDN together with other CSOs have over the last 3 years joined Hon. John Ssimbwa in advocating for amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act 1999 to ensure more stringent measures to combat corruption in public offices in Uganda. UDN and her partners organized several advocacy activities including press conferences and dialogue meetings with Parliamentarians to present key recommendations for consideration.
The Civil Society among other things recommended that Court, in addition to any other penalty it may impose, be compelled order that the property owned or controlled by the Defendant be confiscated and forfeited to the Government, to recover the actual gain or benefit the Defendant may have derived because of his/her action. This also included a provision for freezing the assets and liabilities of the corrupt. We further recommended that the Bill be reviewed to state that the property of close relatives and associates be confiscated when proven to have abated or been acquired fully or partially from the proceeds of the corrupt act (s) in question.
Given that mandatory confiscation of the assets/ properties of officials convicted of corruption, including their relatives once proven as acquired illicitly is now law, is a big achievement for the Ugandan tax payers who have lost huge sums of money to corrupt officials. Now, should the President of the Republic of Uganda assent to this law (which we hope he will considering his stand on zero tolerance to corruption), persons convicted of corruption will lose fraudulently acquired property in order to recoup lost public funds.
Unfortunately, many laws have previously been passed and assented to by the President but their implementation has stayed lacking making the laws toothless. With this milestone achieved, we pray that once this Law is assented to, it will be put into practice to effectively curb the corruption cancer and make it risky for those intending to misappropriate public funds.