Revisiting the Penalty of Illicit Enrichment Crime in Ethiopia: Lessons from Hong Kong and Rwanda’s Legal Experiences

Diriba Adugna Tulu


The crime of illicit enrichment has been widely accepted as a useful mechanism for curbing corruption and established in many international and regional anti-corruption instruments such as United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC), and Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC).These conventions encourage states parties to criminalize it as part of efforts to fight against corruption crimes. Accordingly, the crime of illicit enrichment is prescribed under Article 21 of the Corruption Crimes Proclamation No. 881/2015 of the Ethiopia. This provision is designed to combat and prevent corrupt practice in public and private sectors. The main objective of this paper is to comparatively analyze the rationality and appropriateness of the penalty provided for illicit enrichment crime in Ethiopian Corruption Crimes Proclamation in comparison with Hong Kong and Rwanda’s legal regimes in order to draw some best lessons and way forwards for the identified problems. The paper found that the Ethiopia Corruption Crimes Proclamation fails to set a minimum limit of penalty and entails severe punishment in terms of imprisonment and fine that can convey a meaningful message to potential offenders. Thus, the penalty provided for crime of illicit enrichment is designed in a manner in which the person who commits such crime has the chance to be less punished. In effect, this provision is not only inconsistent with the purpose of criminal law and major sentencing principles, but it also degenerating public confidence in the justice system. Therefore, Ethiopia needs to take a lesson from the experiences of the Hong Kong and Rwanda in incorporating severe and setting minimum limit of penalty for crime of illicit enrichment that can convey a meaningful message to potential offenders. And also, the lawmaker’s should amend and redesign the provision with the appropriate penalty.

Keywords: Corruption, Corruption Crimes Proclamation, Illicit Enrichment crime, Penalty, Punishment

DOI: 10.7176/JLPG/103-01

Publication date: November 30th 2020


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