Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Redisplacing the displaced in Haiti

flikr, Lee Cohen
By Elizabeth Gibson

When the police arrived at Haiti’s Camp Django this summer, they started negotiations by offering money to anyone willing to relocate. It went downhill from there.
When earthquake refugees told the police that $125 each was not enough to find new shelter, the police grew more forceful. A man was knocked to the ground, a woman beaten. Panic set in.

“Everyone started running, so I did too, until I was out of the camp. I later called home and learned that the police broke into my shelter and kicked out my seven-year-old son,” one camp resident described.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Anti-bribery legislation under attack in the US

Flikr, jmrosenfeld
by Katie Shay

In 1977, the United States took a powerful first step in curbing global corruption by passing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law aims to remove the incentive for bribery, and does so by creating both criminal and civil penalties for U.S. persons and certain foreign issuers who bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business. It was intended to change the global landscape by leveling the playing field, and in many ways it has ­-- companies have taken notice, and other countries have followed suit by passing similar laws.

Recently, the Chamber of Commerce issued a report advocating for several changes to the legislation that could severely weaken the power of the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to enforce the law by creating loopholes for companies. Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Coons (D-DE) are expected to introduce legislation that incorporates the Chamber’s proposals, despite opposition from human rights and anti-corruption organizations.

The Chamber says these amendments are necessary to give business more guidance as to what activities could expose them to liability under the Act.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer urged against amending the FCPA, and announced that the DOJ expects to publish improved guidance in the coming year, eliminating the necessity for any legislative clarifications. “[I]t took decades for the Act to become as strong an enforcement tool as it is today. Having come this far, on what I believe is a noble journey, we cannot, and should not start going backwards. On the contrary, the United States must continue leading the charge against transnational bribery.”