Launched in 2012, the Allard Prize for International Integrity is one of the world's largest prizes dedicated to the fight against corruption and the protection of human rights (CAD $100,000). The Allard Prize is awarded biennially to an individual, movement, or organization that has demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption or protecting human rights, especially through promoting transparency, accountability, and the Rule of Law. Nominations are ongoing and open to the public.
John Githongo and Rafael Marques de Morais were the 2015 co-recipients for the Allard Prize for International Integrity. Mr. Githongo and Mr. Marques de Morais have both demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption.
John Githongo – 2015 Recipient
John Githongo’s fight against corruption and towards political transparency in Kenya has made international headlines and has garnered the attention of world leaders. In 2004, Githongo was responsible for exposing a $1 billion corruption scandal within the very administration that had hired him to serve as their permanent secretary for government and ethics. The scandal implicated former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and several senior politicians. Fearing for his safety, this courageous leader and former correspondent for the Economist ultimately resigned from the president’s office and moved to the United Kingdom, where he lived in exile.
In 2008, Githongo returned to Kenya and founded Inuka Kenya Trust, a grassroots advocacy group aimed at creating an informed citizenry. The organization works with Kenyan youth to provide civic education and address societal problems. His anti-corruption advocacy also led to the launching of a campaign called Kenya Ni Yetu (Kenya is Ours). The campaign mobilizes ordinary people to speak up against corruption, impunity and injustice.
In 2011, Githongo was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine and one of the world’s top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine.
When asked what inspires his work, Githongo states, “ordinary citizens don't allow me any other vocation! I am the happy hostage in this sense. There is no worse theft than that of a people's dreams. It leaves in their place apathy, cynicism, self-destructive anger and despondency. There is no greater joy, privilege and honour than watching the sparkle in the eye of an individual who has realized they have been served. In turn, nothing gives me greater joy than being treated with dignity and honesty in the performance of a public service in particular.”
Rafael Marques – 2015 Recipient
Prominent Angola-based journalist and human rights activist, Rafael Marques De Morais has dedicated his career to exposing corruption in his home country. In 1999, De Morais was arrested and charged with abuse of the press for an article he published that criticized Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, who claimed “injury” over the piece. The article, published in the weekly magazine Angola, pointed to the president as destroying Angola and promoting “incompetence, embezzlement and corruption as political and social values". De Morais was held in prison for forty days without charges and was not permitted to contact his family or lawyer.
Ultimately, he was found guilty and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. After much pressure and support from international organizations, including the Open Society Institute and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Supreme Court changed De Morais’ sentence to a suspended sentence.
Most recently, Mr. Marques De Morais has been the subject of a defamation lawsuit resulting from his 2011 book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. The book describes the killing and terrorizing of villagers by private security companies and Angolan military officials in the diamond fields of the Lundas region.
Despite threats to his life, lawsuits and an unjust prison detainment, De Morais continues to write extensively on the trade of conflict diamonds, army brutality and corruption in the oil industry in Angola. In 2008, he founded Maka Angola – an anti-corruption watchdog, through which he has become the authoritative voice on corruption in his country.
When asked what inspires his work, De Morais states, “I have a dream too: I would like to bear witness and contribute to the sustainable human development of my fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Nature has blessed us with a beautiful country and such cheerful people, but bad governance and corruption keep undermining the future of both.”
Sergi Magnitsky and Indonesia Corruption Watch were among the top three finalists and received 2015 Honourable Mentions.
Sergi Magnitsky – 2015 Honourable Mention
After exposing a $230 million tax fraud involving organized criminal groups working with Russian police and other government officials, Sergei Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned for over 11 months in pre-trial detention. His arrest and subsequent in-prison death garnered the attention of international government bodies, parliaments and human rights organizations. Mr. Magnitsky uncovered the tax fraud while working for a Moscow-based law firm. The grounds for which he was arrested were fabricated in order to halt further investigation into the fraud case which he had uncovered and exposed.
In 2009, after nearly one year in prison, during which time he was tortured to retract his testimonies, Mr. Magnitsky developed health complications for which he was given inadequate medical treatment and he finally died at the age of 37 after having been beaten by riot police with rubber batons.
This incident brought international attention to corruption and human rights violations in Russia and resulted in the adoption of the Magnitsky Act by the US Congress in 2012. The Magnitsky Act enables the US to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved in the financial crimes which Magnitsky exposed, as well as those involved in his false arrest, torture and death in custody.
Indonesia Corruption Watch – 2015 Honourable Mention
In a country where political and judicial corruption makes daily headlines, organizations like Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) have been critical in providing political pressure for policy reform, transparency, and accountability of government.
Since its inception in 1998, ICW has been focused on bringing cases of corruption to law enforcement agencies, monitoring campaign and political finance spending in national and local elections and pushing for improved anti-corruption laws such as the Freedom of Information Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, Anti-corruption Act and Election Act.
Using research and evidence-based advocacy, ICW has brought incidences of corruption to the limelight – sometimes at great personal risk. In 2009, ICW researchers Emerson Yuntho and Illian Deta Arta Sari uncovered a sizable discrepancy in the amount of revenue recovered by the Attorney General’s Office in corruption trials and the amount the AGO deposited into government accounts.
Shortly after these findings became public, the AGO charged Yuntho and Sari with defamation under an Indonesian law that makes it illegal to insult a government institution. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Public pressure helped in halting the arrest of the two researchers, although the charges were never formally dropped.
Through rigorous research, outspoken leadership, and personal courage, ICW has played an important role in pushing forward the difficult but essential progress towards accountability in Indonesia.
Originally published on the Allard Prize for International Integrity website