The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Tuesday said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is being used as a tool for political harassment of the opposition members and favouring the ruling party politicians.
So, ACC's independence and impartiality are in question due to its ineffectiveness and inability to exercise autonomous power, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of the civil society organisation.
He was speaking at a press briefing at TIB's office in the capital's Dhanmondi to launch a follow-up report on the organisation's research on the ACC titled "Anti-Corruption Agency Strengthening Initiative".
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, in some aspects, there has been a positive change in the ACC's performance this year compared to that assessed in TIB's 2015 report.
"But the change is not satisfactory," he said.
According to the report, ACC falls into "moderate" category as an autonomous institution for preventing corruption with a moderate overall score of 60 out of 100.
The anti-corruption body falls short of seven marks to graduate to the "high" category as per the international standard, observes the report.
Quoting experts, the TIB report said the ACC plays a biased role and does not take equal measures against all accused.
According to the TIB, operational autonomy of the ACC sometimes faces pressure from different stakeholders, including government and political parties. At times, the commission practises self-censorship to avoid the government's adverse reactions.
The TIB believes that the provision requiring prior permission of the government in filing cases against public officials under the Government Employment Act 2018 has curtailed ACC's autonomy.
Moreover, several key issues, including money laundering and misinvoicing, have been kept off the ACC's jurisdiction through amendment to the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2015.
The ACC can prepare reports on corruption-prone government organisations or institutions and make recommendations but does lack power to implement them, observes the report.
The report also found that the ACC lacks efficiency in investigation and litigation.
The TIB report points out a number of weaknesses of the ACC. Some of the major weaknesses are budget deficit, difficulties in filing allegations, lack of skill and professionalism in investigations, and low rate of punishment in corruption cases.
The report outlines 17 recommendations, including amendment to the anti-money laundering law and government employment law for the empowerment of the ACC.
The TIB used data from 2016 to 2018 to conduct the research. It assessed ACC's performance based on 50 indicators across six dimensions.
The range of high score was 67 percent, medium score was 34-66 percent and low score was 33 percent.
Of the 50 indicators, the overall score the ACC secured in the assessment is 60 percent, which falls into the "moderate" category.
The ACC scored "high" in 21 indicators (42 percent), "moderate" in 18 (36 percent) and "low" in 11 (22 percent).
The highest score was in the dimension of "Prevention, Education and Outreach" (75 percent), followed by "Independence and Status" (67 percent) and "Cooperation and External Relations" (67 percent).
On the other hand, the lowest score was in "Detection, Investigation and Prosecution" (44 percent).