Rooting out corruption is a key element of the United States democracy agenda, said U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield.
The United States works to lead by example in the fight against corruption. This includes programs to deny entry of corrupt foreign officials into the United States, and efforts targeting perpetrators of corruption and their ill-gotten gains both within the United States and around the world.
The Department of Justice has successfully returned some $143 million in assets since 2004, and is currently litigating stolen asset cases involving more than a billion dollars. To take another example, through implementation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act the United States combats the practice of bribing foreign officials.
In recent years the State Department determined to expand its anti-corruption initiatives, with the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL, managing anti-corruption programs across the globe. In Ukraine, INL supported the Interior Ministry’s efforts to recruit, vet and train 7,000 new patrol officers; as a result, the police now enjoy an 85-percent approval rating among Ukrainian citizens.
There was also significant progress in Guatemala in 2015 and 2016. Investigations by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, for which the United States has been a leading donor since 2008, led to arrests and the dismantling of corruption rings within the country’s tax authority, penitentiary system, national civil police, Social Security Health Institute and elsewhere. Most notably, Otto Perez Molina resigned the presidency and was incarcerated following an investigation.
Fighting and preventing corruption is not only a government’s responsibility. It requires a bottom-up approach to building citizens’ demand for justice and accountability. With that in mind, the U.S. is working to expand civil society’s role and empower citizens to hold their governments accountable. In Mexico, the U.S. supports training investigative journalists to uncover corruption at the local level. Citizens, journalists and civil society must all be empowered to expose corrupt practices and feel safe enough to press for the prosecution of perpetrators.
Fighting corruption is not just a moral fight for more ethical, just societies, said Assistant Secretary Brownfield.
"It is a fight we must wage both within our borders and alongside our international partners to protect our economic growth and stability, our security and our future."