By Padraig O’Hannelly.
Before the local elections, an art student climbed the tallest building in central Baghdad and hung a banner depicting a giant eye, with the caption “We can see you“, overlooking the Green Zone.
It’s an image that should be in the minds of all who consider bribery to be a perk of the job, or even an entitlement.
This week in the UK, businessman Jim McCormick was found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to security forces, many of them in Iraq; he made an estimated $84 million from the scam, and was facilitated by corrupt officials who were happy to take his life-changing backhanders. Many others, however, had their lives changed in very different ways, when they fell victim to the bombs that went undetected by McCormick’s phoney devices.
At a different level, there are many who believe it’s OK to accept ‘gifts’ for simply doing their jobs, and they will always have an excuse for it: “everyone else is doing it“, “I need the money“, “other people are taking more“, …
But it’s all part of the same amoral culture that must be eradicated from any civilised society. Finding the culprits is one thing, but making the crime of corruption socially unacceptable is another. The people can see you, and ultimately will have zero tolerance for what you do.