By Amin Kef Sesay
On the 23 February 2021, the Chargé d’Affairs at U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Elaine .M. French, presented Francis Ben Kaifala with the Department of State International Anti-Corruption Champions Award.
The Anti-Corruption Commissioner was honored for his leadership which has enhanced efforts to fight corruption in the country, including the strengthening of anti-corruption laws and working to hold public officials accountable for corrupt acts.
Francis Ben Kaifala was one of 12 Anti-Corruption Champions from different countries recognized by United States Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, for changing the world for the better through their work to combat corruption and fight for transparency and accountability. These champions are members of Government, the Press, Civil Society, and the Judiciary.
As President Biden has emphasized, “We must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.” Combating corruption is a key part of that commitment.
The honorees are Judge Ardian Dvorani (Albania); Attorney General Diana Salazar (Ecuador); Ms. Sophia Henry Pretrick, Investigative Advisor for the Compliance Investigation Division of the Pohnpei State Auditor (Federated States of Micronesia); Mr. Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro, Chief of the Special Prosecutors Office against Corruption and Impunity (Guatemala); Mr. Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of the Organization for Positive Change (Guinea); Ms. Anjali Bhardwaj, Founder of NGO Satark Nagrik Sangathan (India); Ms. Dhuha Mohammed, Director General for Electronic Payments at the Central Bank of Iraq (Iraq); Mr. Bolot Temirov, investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of Factcheck.kg (Kyrgyz Republic); Mr. Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla, Chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (Libya); Mayor Victor Sotto of Pasig (The Philippines); Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala, Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Sierra Leone); and Mr. Ruslan Ryaboshapka, former Prosecutor General (Ukraine).
The selected honorees represent the many anti-corruption champions performing vital work around the world who often face threats, arrest, and persecution, while others may work in underfunded, undervalued, or otherwise challenging circumstances.
The award is an acknowledgment that all are making a difference. While the Department of State International Anti-Corruption recognizes these 12 champions, they are honored to work hand-in-hand with many other reformers around the world, and celebrate all the unsung heroes who are striving to make a difference.
Reacting to the news of the Award, the ACC Commissioner thanked the US Government, particularly the US Embassy in Sierra Leone for the recognition, adding that “When a credible institution like the US Department of State recognises you for the work you do as Head of an Anti-graft Agency, you can only payback by continuing to put more robust efforts into the campaign in an impartial, fair and fearless manner”. He also expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of Sierra Leone, especially President Bio, for the confidence reposed on him to lead the country’s anti-corruption efforts adding that the honour was for his staff and the people of Sierra Leone.
The public may recall that this outstanding recognition comes in less than one month when Commissioner Kaifala was elected member of the Africa Union Advisory Board on Corruption, with overwhelming majority due to his strong leadership and achievements in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, which is positively impacting the African continent.