This module is a resource for lecturers
This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.
The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging, and the lecturer might wish to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussions in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.
All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the Key issues section of the Module.
It is recommended that lecturers begin building a conducive and friendly environment at the start of class and before conducting the very first exercise. This can be done by breaking the ice in a supportive way, by respectfully examining students' starting orientations to corruption, and by demonstrating genuine interest in their perspectives. Once students come to see the lecturer as respectful, genuinely interested in their orientation to the material, and consistent in policing any snide or unsupportive comments by class members, that safe space will enable effective learning and development.
Exercise 1: Reflection on corruption and human rights violations
At the start of the exercise, distribute two cards to each student. Then, ask the students to write down a definition of corruption on the first card and a human right which could be violated by corrupt activities on the second. After giving the students a few minutes to write down their answers, ask them to present their cards to the rest of the group and facilitate a group discussion on their answers. At the end of the discussion, write down the most common answers on a board or flip chart. At the end of the class, and if time allows, ask the students to elaborate on their answers.
This exercise is appropriate for the beginning of a class, as it shows to what extent the students are familiar with the terms “corruption” and “human rights”, and it enhances an understanding of the connection between the two terms. The lecturer should encourage the students to write down whatever answer comes to their mind.
Exercise 2: Human rights violations related to corruption in different sectors, countries and regions
Ask the students – before coming to class – to research online a recent example of human rights violations caused by corruption. Ask each student to explain how the concrete corruption act has in practice led to human rights violations.
The point of this exercise is to assist students to understand how the various acts of corruption affect different human rights, such as environmental rights, in specific cases and contexts. Students may be asked to present examples from different sectors, countries and regions. The lecturer could stimulate the students by providing some well-known examples from their regions.
Exercise 3: Case studies focusing on judicial corruption
Depending on the available time, select one (or more) of the following case studies and ask students to review the relevant material before coming to class:
Case Study 1
Illegal tape-recording in North Macedonia
In 2015, the opposition leader in North Macedonia published the contents of illegally wired conversations that were reported by whistle-blowers from the intelligence services. The main revelations concerned corruption in the justice system, including the judiciary, prosecution and police. The disclosed tape recordings and resulting information regarding corruption led to the formation of a Special Prosecution Office, with a specific mandate to prosecute the crimes uncovered in the illegally taped conversations. Several former highly ranked politicians were indicted, while a few cases were completed via legally valid and enforceable adjudications.
More information on this case is available here.
Case Study 2
Illegal tape recordings in Peru
In 2018, a set of secretly recorded phone conversations between High Court officials, revealing widespread corruption in the top ranks of the judicial system, was published. The disclosures sparked a series of resignations. For example, in one of the recordings a Supreme Court justice offered to adjust the sentence for a person charged with raping an eleven-year-old girl. “Yes, I'm going to look at the file,” he said, speaking to an unnamed person. “What is it they want: To get the sentence lowered or to be declared innocent?” It is unclear whether the suspect in the case was convicted. There was a total of 47 recordings.
More information on this case is available here.
Case Study 3
“Kids for cash”
In 2008, a large corruption scandal dubbed “Kids for cash” was uncovered in the United States. Judges in the Court of Luzerne Country in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, had received cash payments from private juvenile prisons and in return had sent many young offenders to these institutions. The United States Attorney opened an investigation and alleged that two judges had accepted nearly $2.6 million to send children to two private, for-profit juvenile facilities. The judges were charged with committing federal crimes. The repercussions of the judges’ corrupt actions for juveniles, their families and their communities were significant. From 2003 to 2008, the respective judges altered the lives of more than 2,500 children, involving 6,000 cases. Over 50 per cent of the children who appeared before one of the judges lacked legal representation to challenge the court orders, and 60 per cent of the children were removed from their homes and sent to the respective facilities.
More information on this case is available here.
Students are also encouraged to watch this 14-minute video documentary on the “Kids for cash” scandal.
The lecturer divides the students into small groups (ideally groups of about four students) and asks each group to discuss one of the following questions for about five to ten minutes. Then the lecturer asks one person from each group to share their answers with the whole class, and the lecturer facilitates a discussion about the answers.
- Which human rights, individual or collective, were breached and by whom in the presented case?
- How can human rights challenges be addressed better by criminal justice practitioners during the investigation and prosecution of corruption-related offences?
- How can criminal justice practitioners avoid interfering with human rights guarantees when attempting to uncover corruption-related crime?
- Are there any differences between the three case studies in terms of the level of corruption and its impact on human rights? (This is an optional question if the lecturer presents more than one case study.)
The lecturer may wish to present other case studies that are more relevant to specific regional or cultural contexts, and could be more interesting and relatable for the students. The lecturer may also ask the students to identify similar case studies from their country or region as a pre-class activity.
Exercise 4: Treaty negotiations concerning illicit enrichment
Ask the students – before coming to class – to familiarize themselves with the debate surrounding illicit enrichment (UNCAC art. 20), in particular how states may investigate and prosecute government officials for illicit enrichment while at the same time guaranteeing fair trial rights (e.g. the presumption of innocence). Ask the students to engage in a role play that takes the form of treaty negotiations that have reached an impasse due to a disagreement among negotiators about the inclusion of a provision on the crime of illicit enrichment. The current draft treaty includes language that is the same as article 20 of UNCAC. Divide them into groups consisting of: (1) states that oppose the criminalization of illicit enrichment due to concerns about fair trial rights; (2) states that support the criminalization of illicit enrichment as an important tool in the fight against corruption; and (3) states that are seeking a middle ground by suggesting compromises. The lecturer acts as the chair of the negotiations.
The students can be divided into the three groups of negotiators either before or during class, depending on how much time is available for this exercise during class. If time permits, the students may be given an opportunity during class to discuss their negotiating position, but this may also be done independently by the students before class. As the chair of the negotiations, the lecturer should facilitate discussions with respect to the following issues:
- How could the current treaty language be amended to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of illicit enrichment does not conflict with human rights guarantees, in particular:
- The presumption of innocence and the burden of proof;
- The right to remain silent;
- The principle of legality.
- Should illicit enrichment be omitted from the treaty altogether because of disagreements about whether it conflicts with human rights? Or is preferable to include a provision on illicit enrichment but to make it semi-mandatory (i.e., states must consider criminalizing illicit enrichment, but are not obliged to do so)?
Next: Possible class structure