The Prosecutor General’s office has hit back at the anti-corruption watchdog for blaming it for the low conviction rate for graft cases.
Public prosecutors attended to all the cases forwarded by the Anti-Corruption Commission last year, the PG office said in a statement Wednesday, adding that some cases were rejected due to procedural reasons.
“We provided the support to the extent possible by changing procedures that created some challenges for the prosecution of some cases filed by the commission,” the PG office said.
“As explained, after amending these procedures, the commission has been asked to resubmit cases that could not be prosecuted due to the previous procedures. However, so far, only a few of these cases have been resubmitted.”
In its 2017 annual report, the ACC claimed the PG’s office and other state institutions were responsible for a lack of coordination and cooperation.
“We face challenges in taking action against those participating in corrupt activities due to delays in prosecution of the cases sent to the Prosecutor General’s office by the commission after investigation concludes, and also as the PG without a reasonable cause decides not to prosecute cases,” said the 2017 report.
But the PG office said multiple letters instructing resubmission of rejected cases went unheeded.
“This includes cases that have been sent back to the ACC asking for more information several years ago. Up till this period of 2018, the commission has been asked to refile 28 different cases,” it said.
The Maldives Independent found earlier this month that the ACC sent fewer than one percent of cases for prosecution in 2017.
Last October the NGO Transparency Maldives said only one corruption-related case reached conviction between 2010 and 2014, despite 175 cases being submitted for prosecution by the ACC.
TM said one reason for low prosecution rates could be the lack of coordination between the PG and the ACC. Another could be that they had different perceptions of corruption.
“There are also some cases which are very evidently politically influenced,” said Aiman Rasheed from TM. “Some cases like justices being bribed go on while other cases do not.
“For example, we’ve had MPs openly admit to carrying bags of cash and it was not (prosecuted). The ACC may have had to investigate to show they did (investigate) but it may not have been prosecuted because of political influence.”
The ACC said it planned to create a whistle-blower app this year and establish a nationwide anti-corruption policy. TM said it was unaware of any anti-corruption policy.