Abidjan – More than 40 police officers in Ivory Coast accused of racketeering will be tried in October, prosecutors said on Friday, as a major anti-corruption drive in the graft-hit country gets under way.
The west African nation created a good governance ministry earlier this year that sent out anti-graft squads to try to catch corrupt public service officials, including the police, red-handed, or collect witness statements.
“We will no longer tolerate certain things,” said General Ange Kessi, a government commissioner – the equivalent of a military prosecutor – in charge of prosecuting security services personnel who have broken the law.
“We are now going to enter the phase of punishment and repression,” Kessi said.
“The military tribunal has already scheduled the trial of 43 police officers for racketeering on the roads.”
In Ivory Coast, police officers are tried by a military tribunal, just like soldiers.
“If law enforcement officers lack integrity and trample on the law, they ruin the confidence of our citizens in its police,” Kessi said.
According to Transparency International, the world’s leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption, Ivory Coast has improved its performance over the years and is ranked 104th out of 180 countries in its corruption perceptions index.
But graft remains a major issue.
Apart from the police, anti-corruption squads are also probing the education, health and justice sectors.
In a 2017 survey by Afrobarometer, a pan-African institution researching public attitudes towards issues like governance, one in two Ivorians said they paid bribes to police officers to avoid problems.
One in three paid government officials to obtain documents, and two-thirds considered reporting corruption dangerous because of the risk of reprisals.
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