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13 July 2013

Fighting corruption is a job for us all!

Fighting corruption is not just the job of world leaders, parliamentarians and even those in charge of business and handling a nation’s economy. It’s the responsibility of us all!

That’s the clear message in the latest article from EXPOSED, the global coalition of Christian agencies campaigning to highlight the issue of corruption, one of the leading causes of poverty across the world.

The essay, entitled It’s Political, dispels the myth that ‘politics’ is only for those directly employed or involved in the workings of government. Politics is about, and for, every citizen and we are all involved with what happens in and to our nation, its people and communities.

Amanda Jackson, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Micah Challenge International, one of the EXPOSED partners, says it is crucial for us all to understand that when it comes to ‘Shining a Light on Corruption’ we can all make a real difference.

It’s Political draws on examples from history, theology and philosophy which underpin the argument that politics with a small ‘p’ is the responsibility of us all. Yes, there are some who will be and are more actively engaged – community organisers, filmmakers, poets, philosophers, teachers, community organisers, pastors and church leaders, even groups like pensioners and those fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged.”

A Transparency International report out this week says that 2/3 of people interviewed feel that ‘ordinary people’ can make a difference in the fight against corruption. Amanda Jackson is encouraged by the findings, “Politics should be for us all and we all have a right to have our say!”

It’s Political is the latest in a series of thought provoking articles being written for EXPOSED by Marijke Hoek (co-editor of Micah's Challenge - the Church's Response to the Global Poor).

‘The welfare of our nation lies in the hearts and hands of us all…’ the article maintains, citing an example from a city in Peru where one group became so concerned about the high rates of child sex abuse and the ‘abominably low’ rates of criminal conviction that a coalition was formed and a local campaign instituted against the corruption that permeated the local judicial system. This developed into a national advocacy campaign which resulted in the removal of bad judges who had defended the perpetrators instead of sentencing them.

There are also recent examples of investigations at corporate level into the scourge that is tax evasion and tax avoidance, which were initially set in motion by ‘ordinary citizens’. It’s Political states the case of Barney Jones, the former Google employee who blew the whistle by giving crucial evidence to the Public Accounts Committee into the search engine's tax affairs in the UK.

‘(He) explained that his decision to speak out was rooted in his Christian faith. After reading what appeared to be misleading evidence from a senior Google executive, he felt prompted to give his account of what he considered an "immoral" company tax scheme.’

It’s Political also highlights a recently released documentary -The UK Gold – where a London priest, Father William Taylor, sheds light on Britain's offshore tax havens and ‘lifts the veil on the British financial sector that relies on unfair play for profit and is hugely influential in shaping corporate tax policy’.

“It is vital for us all to understand that when it comes to exposing the wrongs we find around us, including exposing corruptive practices which rob economies of income, we should not leave it just to parliamentarians and CEOs. Of course, we welcome the recent agreements by the G8 national leaders and the European Union, to improve fiscal transparency and tighten up on regulations relating to ‘tax havens’. But this is just the start,” Amanda Jackson says.

“Corruption not only ‘keeps the rich rich and the poor poor’, but it steals money from essential services – like healthcare. It’s estimated that 1,000 children die every day because they don’t receive basic treatments which could be provided by income from taxes which end up offshore. As It’s Political concludes …. We must all combat ‘the rot’, countering the corrosion of character and the erosion of community life.” Amanda Jackson says.

To read It’s Political by Marijke Hoek