MSI Anti-corruption Experts Present the Success of Citizen Advocate Offices to State

Albanian poster promoting CAOs

MSI anti-corruption experts Bert Spector and Svetlana Winbourne conducted a presentation at the State Department on Feb. 15. The session focused on MSI’s design and implementation of 27 Citizen Advocate Offices (CAO) in Afghanistan, Albania, Russia and Ukraine through the past 14 years.

The CAOs provide proactive legal support to victims of corruption in those countries. In addition to providing legal consultations and offering representation in court for victims, CAOs seek more rapid administrative resolution of corruption cases by pressuring government officials to adjust their management, procedures and regulations so as to reduce their vulnerabilities to corruption.

This innovative feature of CAOs has resulted in eliminating corrupt practices in the majority of cases undertaken.

There is about 50 percent success rate for corruption cases handled by CAOs in the short-run – mostly through administrative resolution and sometimes in court. The other 50 percent of cases are not necessarily lost but still pending resolution after a one-year wait.

More than 580 cases were filed in Albania’s CAO filed during the first 10 months of operations in 2001. The CAO was able to resolve a large number of cases administratively, 15 cases were sent to the General Prosecutor and at least four of these were resolved in favor of the plaintiff.

In Albania, the response from citizens increased dramatically after a local TV station started a morning program called “Marathon Against Corruption” where CAO lawyers talked about corruption issues, live phone calls were accepted from citizens, complaints were discussed and advice was provided about the rights and obligations of citizens.

Across seven Russian oblasts, the majority of complainants who appeal to CAOs received a favorable outcome, usually through a procedural change that reduced opportunities for corruption in the future.

Click to view the pdf on MSI’s CAOs.

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