As shown in recent weeks in the Dominican Republic, citizen participation is key in starting the process to end impunity. Following the ongoing corruption scandal of construction giant Odebrecht cascading across Latin America, it came to light that the company bribed public officials in the Dominican Republic to win multi-million dollar contracts.
On 22 January, thousands of citizens marched against impunity and corruption in the Dominican Republic. Many more have signed “Green Books”, or petitions for independent prosecutors to further investigate the Odebrecht case in a more transparent way. Today, citizens from the Dominican Republic are showing the world that active participation, commitment and perseverance can effectively fight corruption.
Odebrecht paid over 3 billion Dominican Pesos (US$62.9 million) in bribes to Dominican public officials. This is equivalent to a five-fold increase in the Dominican national health system (SENASA) investment in cancer treatments, or 72 times more investment in treatment for premature births. It shows how the costs of bribery can perpetuate poverty and inequality, and deprive citizens of access to public services.
Dominican civil society organisations and citizens will continue the fight against impunity by joining the next National Mobilisation Day against Impunity, this Wednesday, 22 February as well as by signing the “Green Books” available all around the country.
Transparency International welcomes the declaration signed by 10 prosecutors (including the Dominican Republic) on 17 February in Brasilia to collaborate on investigating Odebrecht, but calls on authorities to make this process transparent and allow civil society to monitor progress. All countries affected by the Odebrecht case must continue effective judicial cooperation channels as provided for in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).