Changing people’s behaviors is the best way to fight corruption, not the prosecution, stated Special Prosecutor April Cripps yesterday, during the celebration marking the 37th year anniversary of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
Created to investigate and prosecute elected and appointed officials, national government employees, and state employees that violate laws, the Office of Special Prosecutor believes that prosecution alone is not enough to deter corrupt behavior and that education and public awareness are more effective tools.
Conducting public awareness campaigns with state governments, national government employees, and students goes a long way toward fighting corrupt behavior in the government. Using the example of the Uel a Sechelid campaign and its effectiveness in changing an entire generation’s perception of the turtle, Special Prosecutor Cripps said that the same type of campaign with young people now will change how they perceive corrupt behaviors.
Helping people to understand what corruption is, Cripps relayed a conversation with a student who did not understand what corruption meant. Corruption, she explained, is like having money donated to buy school toilet paper but somehow, along the way, that money disappears, and the school gets no toilet paper. “Who is impacted,” she asked, and the students could grasp the meaning and the impact of corruption.
“Yes, it is very important to start when they are young,” concurred President Surangel Whipps Jr. saying that it is more difficult to change adult behaviors.
“There’s nothing that weakens governments more than the high levels of corruption,” President Whipps said in his remarks at the OSP’s 37th Anniversary celebration, adding that public officials have to be accountable to the people that they serve.
With the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Office of Special Prosecutor is bringing education and awareness to the public schools and communities on what corruption is, its impact on people’s lives, and the role the Office of the Special Prosecutor has in investigating corruption and prosecuting people involved.