Revise laws to mandate asset declaration of public officials (CI0030)
Action Plan: Côte d’Ivoire Action Plan 2020-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2020
Lead Institution: HIGH AUTHORITY FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE (HABG)
Support Institution(s): State actors involved - Prime Minister Office; - Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups ND
Policy AreasAnti Corruption and Integrity, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Legislation
IRM Report: Côte d’Ivoire Action Plan Review 2020-2022
Starred: Pending IRM Review
Early Results: Marginal
Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant
Potential Impact: Pending IRM Review
What is the public interest issue to be addressed by this commitment? Persistence of corruption and related offenses in public management. In order to effectively fight corruption, Côte d'Ivoire has ratified and transposed the African Union Convention on the prevention and fight against corruption. This Convention requires States to create the conditions in order to proceed with the declaration of the assets of their senior officials. Despite the efforts made by the Ivorian State to apply this measure of the said Convention, we note the non-existence of declaration of assets during the exercise of the functions of the subject as provided for in the African Union Convention in its article 7.1. This commitment therefore aims to put an end to this state of affairs and thus improve the practice of declaring assets in the country.
What is the commitment? The commitment consists in the revision of the law N° 2019-986 of November 27, 2019 ratifying the ordinance N° 2018-477 of May 16, 2018 amending article 94 of the ordinance N° 2013-660 of the 20 September 2013 relating to the prevention and the fight against corruption and similar offenses as amended by ordinances N° 2015-176 of March 24, 2015 and N° 2018-25 of January 17, 2018 in order to make mandatory the declaration of asset update during the term of office or function of persons subject to the declaration of assets. The main steps in the review process are: - Review of the texts on the declaration of assets of the comparator countries; - Preparation of draft ordinances and corrective decrees; - Validation of draft texts by the HABG; - Transmission of draft texts to the General Secretariat of the Government for adoption and follow-up. 22
How will commitment contribute to solve the public problem? The declaration of assets while in office or function aims to improve transparency in the development of the assets of senior officials during their periods of activity. It can help fight corruption in two ways: - It has a preventive function because it establishes a permanent control of the patrimonial situation of the subjected persons; - It acts upstream of the repression because the analysis of the declarations of updating of assets can reveal in time relevant elements which could give rise to legal proceedings before the statute of limitations of the incriminated facts.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? - This commitment is relevant for transparency insofar as it will allow the HABG to have up-to-date information on asset declarations instead of waiting for the end of mandates or functions before disposing of them. - The commitment is relevant for citizen participation because civil society can rely on regular data to guide its interventions in the fight against corruption in which it is a stakeholder; - Finally, this commitment is relevant with regard to public responsibility because the declaration of assets is above all a means of ensuring that senior figures with decision-making power or influence over the management of public resources do not benefit from it. to illegally increase their wealth.
Additional information Through this commitment, the High Authority for Good Governance intends to produce a draft amending ordinance and the subsequent draft decree to be transmitted to the General Secretariat of the Government, which is responsible for its adoption. However, monitoring of the adoption process by the Government will be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice. The estimated budget for this commitment is 60 million CFA.
Important activity having a verifiable deliverable Start date End date Benchmarking of texts on the declaration of assets from countries already practicing declaration during mandate or office. March 2021 June 2021 23 Writing draft texts July 2021 August 2021 Validation of draft texts by the HABG September 2021 October 2021 Transmission of draft texts to the General Secretariat of the Government and monitoring of their adoption November 2021 December 2021
IRM Midterm Status Summary
Commitment 5: Asset Declaration Legal Framework
Asset Transparency Cluster (Commitments 4 and 5)
(High Authority for Good Governance, National Bureau of Technical Studies and Development)
For a complete description of Commitments 4 and 5 included in this cluster, see the action plan: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Cote-dIvoire_Action-Plan_2020-2022_FR.pdf
Context and Objectives
Côte d’Ivoire ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption in 2012.  Since then, Côte d’Ivoire has worked towards the asset declaration of public officials as a key reform for greater public integrity and good governance. 
The High Authority for Good Governance (HABG) is responsible for collecting the asset declaration of public officials. The agency has long sought implementation of an online platform for the submission, management, and publication information related to asset declarations.  Obstacles such as security concerns and limited internet penetration in Côte d’Ivoire have so far inhibited this aim. 
The HABG proposed the inclusion of Commitments 4 and 5, which build on Commitment 5 of the previous action plan.  Previously, Côte d’Ivoire committed to increasing the rate of asset registrants to 90% by June 2020 and enforcing sanctions for noncompliance.  However, the declarations of public officials and civil servants when leaving office are not guaranteed to date, and publicly available information on asset declarations is scarce.  PSCI-PGO specifically proposed that the commitments revise the law on asset declarations and publish information related to public officials' assets. PSCI-PGO also proposed that the HABG form a multistakeholder forum that includes the public and private sectors, civil society, and the media. However, this suggestion is not reflected in the final commitment text. 
Commitments 4 and 5 seek to strengthen the legal and technical framework in the country to increase the government and citizens' access to information on assets held by individuals in positions of authority. Specifically, Commitment 5 promises to review the current legislation to ensure that asset declaration be mandatory for public officials and civil servants while in office. Commitment 4 aims to gather all declarations in an online platform and publish aggregated statistics.  The government also intends to establish online channels for submission and management of declaration forms.  It is not clear whether civil society will participate in the implementation of this commitment; however, it is supported by the United States' Millennium Challenge Corporation. 
Potential for Results: Substantial
Annual asset declaration by public officials is currently not mandatory. Decree No. 2014-219 on the modalities of asset declarations establishes that public officials must submit declarations upon entering and leaving public office, within a period of 30 days, as well as in the event of wealth fluctuations. However, there is limited public information available on the assets of public authorities.  Additionally, the rate of compliance is low for certain groups, such as parliamentarians, mayors, presidents of general councils, or the defense and security forces.  From 2015 to 2020, the total compliance rate was around 79% with magistrates at 96%, members of government at 83%, and local elected officials at 39%.  This commitment will make annual asset declaration mandatory. Up-to-date information of public officials' assets is a critical component in the mitigation of corruption and the uncovering of illicitly gained wealth.
This reform also aims to enable digital submission and management of asset declaration forms. Currently, public officials must submit paper forms in person to the HABG or local government offices to be filed with the HABG or the Court of Auditors.  The HABG specifies three objectives for the integrated online platform: facilitate asset declaration collection, improve data management, and give public access to disaggregated data. The National Bureau of Technical Studies and Development (BNETD) will develop the platform with a particular aim to address data security concerns that previously held up its creation. The BNETD will “work with the latest technologies in data security and following specifications on security requirements” and incorporate the expertise of the Ivory Coast Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ARTCI) so that “the development and deployment of this platform take into account the requirements of the Law on the protection of personal data.” 
At the moment, the HABG publishes a list of public officials subject to asset declaration along with an anonymous tally of the number of individuals who submitted declarations by role.  While a 2020 report states that the HABG also publishes monthly summaries and maps showing declarations by region, the IRM could not locate this information online at the time of writing.  Under this commitment, the new platform will add real-time statistics and information on historic asset declarations on a regular basis. 
The government intends to engage civil society during the final stages of the legislative reform process and development of the online platform. The government will hold one consultation with civil society once new legislation has been drafted. Likewise, the HABG states that “once the first version of the platform is completed, it will be presented at a session open to the public to take into account their observations and especially their needs in terms of statistics on the declaration of assets.” The representative added that there will be public awareness-raising and training sessions.  The IRM recommends that civil society and the public be continuously engaged throughout the reform.
However, reforms will not increase the range of individuals subject to asset declaration obligations, beyond taking into account institutions newly created by the 2016 Constitution. Nor does the commitment aim to broaden the type of assets to be disclosed, which currently concentrates on family-held assets and excludes interests that potentially conflict with their public office, such as beneficial ownership or positions in a company.  Additionally, the asset declarations themselves will remain confidential, with only aggregate statistics open to the general public.  Despite limitations, these commitments hold a substantial potential to increasing citizen access to asset declaration information. The government expects that the digital platform will “allow the HABG to effectively and sustainably resolve the problem of availability and access to statistics on asset declarations.”  In the medium-term, this reform could establish a foundation for civic monitoring of statistical information on asset declaration.
Opportunities, Challenges and Recommendations During Implementation
Civil society expressed optimism for this reform as the commitments' design explicitly takes previous obstacles into account. Additionally, the work of the Ministry of Good Governance, Capacity Building and the Fight Against Corruption also promises to advance asset transparency.  Civil society also noted that a national anticorruption plan (Commitment 3) is also vital to implementing an effective asset disclosure system.  The inclusion of various agencies—including the Office of the Prime Minister—in the action plan indicates high-level and broad engagement across government.
In regard to possible constraints, the scope of the legislative overhaul will determine whether the HABG and partners are able to implement the ambitious procedural and technical tools needed to increase asset transparency. Currently, the law does not provide for online submission of asset declarations. Therefore, legal reforms stipulated in Commitment 5 will dictate the scope and function of the platform. An HABG official acknowledged that online reporting is all the more necessary in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Legal limitations on who can access asset declaration data also currently inhibits cross-sharing and verification of the data within government. A contact from the HABG stated that, “reforms must be introduced with the legislature to lift the confidentiality of the declared information and increase the powers of the HABG in terms of access to national metadata which can enable it to check the completeness and sincerity of asset declarations.” 
Altogether, these commitments could inspire other countries in the region, as offering public disaggregated asset data is a new practice in Francophone Africa. Only Niger has a law, which has not been implemented, that requires asset data to be public.  In turn, Côte d’Ivoire could follow best practices from other countries such as those put in place by Ukraine, Georgia and Croatia in recent years. Ukraine established an “electronic asset disclosure system for public officials replacing the previous ineffective paper-based system and allowed an unprecedented level of transparency of public officials’ assets."  Georgia introduced an official monitoring mechanism to verify the accuracy of public officials’ asset declarations. Through the electronic system, over 280 asset declarations were randomly selected for verification.  Croatia improved asset transparency by developing new tools allowing easier public access to information. Electronic submission of the financial reports of public officials also allowed the Conflict of Interest Commission and the public to better verify the accuracy of the submitted information. This, in turn, enabled greater transparency concerning the property of officials and increased their public accountability. 
In implementing this cluster, the IRM recommends that Côte d’Ivoire refer to Transparency International’s Recommendations on Asset and Interest Declarations for OGP Action Plans.  Specifically, the IRM recommends that Côte d’Ivoire consider taking the following steps:
• Consult civil society throughout the legislative review and drafting process as well as on the criteria and characteristics of the online platform for asset declarations management.
• Review legislation to strengthen the HABG's oversight capacity to enforce compliance and implement sanctions, verify submissions, initiate investigations, and evaluate public complaints. 
• Review legislation to allow for online asset declarations through the platform.
• Analyze the benefits and constraints to eventually eliminate confidentiality clauses and make asset declaration data publicly available in open-data format.
In the medium-term, expand the scope of asset declarations to include not only property and wealth but also private interests that might conflict with public office such as additional jobs or positions held, beneficial ownership of companies, and participation in civic or professional bodies.