STORY

NGO a key ally in fighting corruption

April 22, 2013

 

If Honduras were being graded on corruption, it would fail the test. At 28 out of 100 on Transparency International’s 2012 index – and a subsequent rank of 133 out of 176 countries—academics and practitioners say the problem is pervasive.

Corruption affects children when their teachers claim salary for classes never taught, and hospitals that never receive the medicines listed in the logs. It affects people’s ability to find work and take out bank loans, move to cities and start businesses.

“This is the worst threat to humanity and the worst threat to our society,” says Gloria Manzanares, Counterpart International’s Country Director in Honduras.

With support from Counterpart International, and funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, citizens can now report corrupt practices to a non-governmental organization: the Anti-Corruption Legal Assistance Center (ALAC).

ALAC – a nongovernmental organization – offers a confidential system where all citizens who are victims of or witness to corruption can file and track an anonymous claim.  ALAC staff assesses, evaluates and in some cases investigates the allegations to determine their validity and presents the government with documentation for possible redress.

It is one of the highest-performing centers in the Americas: Since the center’s opening in February 2012, it has handled 261 complaints.

Even more important than the success of ALAC in handling cases are its efforts to educate the public that corruption is not normal, and requires their active participation to be effectively tackled.

“We are working to return the credibility of the system, and we have faith and hope that things will change, because there are good people in the country,” says ALAC attorney Ludim Ayala. “There are good people within institutions who are truly committed to effectively fighting corruption.”

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