JORDAN: "Societies dedicated to their own advancement are required to fight corruption"
HM King Abdullah of Jordan

HM King Abdullah

Throughout its history, Jordan has realized great achievements, in spite of scarce resources and regional instability. Our homeland, by grace of God and by the resolve and will of our loyal citizens, attained an advanced level of development, though pressing challenges remain. Facing them requires the collaboration, resilience and seriousness of all to enhance citizens’ confidence in state institutions, and to develop and support the ability of these institutions to ensure justice and equality in the distribution of the benefits of development.

Corruption is one of the plagues of our age; it is not specific to a certain culture or country; rather, it is a phenomenon found in developing and developed countries alike, in the public and private sectors and in all classes of society. But its negative effects are greatest in those countries that strive to improve economic and social development and conquer poverty and unemployment. Corruption wastes capabilities, breeds frustration and undermines citizens’ confidence in their institutions, robbing them of legitimate opportunities.

Societies dedicated to their own advancement are required to fight corruption, and are likewise called on to protect public institutions and those who work in them from character assassination and unfounded rumors. God Almighty instructed us in the Holy Quran: ‘O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what
ye have done.’ (Surat al-Hujurat:6)

Corruption and character assassination are counterparts. To the extent that we abhor dealing with the corrupt or turn a blind eye to corruption, we should also refuse to deal or conspire with those who engage in character assassination. We call for subjecting all of those would do so to the due process of law.

Jordan has been a pioneer country in fighting corruption at the international level through the great efforts exerted by the Directorate for Fighting Corruption and the Audit Bureau. Transparency International ranked Jordan number thirty-seven among 145 countries in the fight against this phenomenon; it is a rank close to those of developed countries. But while we aspire to make Jordan first among countries that seek to rid themselves of this phenomenon, we realize that our efforts to do so have been tainted to a certain extent. We endured several periods of disorder and failure over the past few years. This requires us to find and implement a new mechanism that ensures more transparency, justice and integrity in the fight against corruption.

As we enhance our vision of Jordan and raise our expectations to make Jordan a model in which all citizens -- men and women -- share in formulating its future, and in compliance with our ambitions to enhance citizens’ confidence in state institutions, we therefore entrust you with establishing an independent body to coordinate with concerned authorities the drafting and implementation of a general strategy to fight and prevent corruption. The institutionalization of this strategy would ensure that corruption, including financial and administrative corruption, can be uncovered and investigated, and that evidence and information linked to corruption can be collected.

We seek a body responsible for confronting anyone who is corrupt or corrupting others. It should also seek to close the windows through which corruption enters our society and to raise citizens’ awareness of the negative effects of corruption on economic, social and political development, and on Jordan’s credibility among investors and international agencies.

We look upon the phenomenon of ‘wasta’ (patronage) and favoritism, a public complaint, as another form. While we are proud of our values of solidarity, social responsibility and human understanding of others’ problems, which are rooted in our Arab and Islamic heritage, favoritism and patronage infringe on the rights of others, have squandered public funds, and deprived some citizens of their rightful opportunities. Thus, patronage that deprives others of their rights is incongruent with Jordanian values and should be regarded as a gross violation of justice and equality that is punishable by law.

While we would like to emphasize the independence of this body and make it accountable, we would like to emphasize that the monitoring and work handled by this body should be shared by all the institutions of the state, civil society, public shareholding companies and public sector institutions. Additionally, the persons involved in the operation of this body should be selected through a mechanism that allows the executive, legislative and judicial authorities to share in recommending them according to clear standards. This institution should also be availed of the necessary resources, including public investigation and prosecution, and the facilitation of access to data and information.

We look forward to the prompt initiation of the necessary procedures to draft a law governing the Anti-Corruption Institution, which should be referred to Parliament as soon as possible for approval. We also look forward to realizing a clear strategy to fight corruption and its rapid implementation, so that Jordan will always be as we hoped it to be – a haven of justice and integrity