Global corruption fight faltering as rule of law declines: Watchdog
Transparency International says ‘weakening justice systems’ are allowing corruption to thrive globally.
Money found by detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau during investigative actions in a corruption case involving judges of the Supreme Court is depicted in an unknown location in Ukraine in this picture released on May 16, 2023 [Handout/Press Service of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine via Reuters]Published On 30 Jan 202430 Jan 2024
Global efforts to fight corruption are faltering as the rule of law retreats, Transparency International (TI) said in its latest report.
The watchdog reported on Tuesday, as it published the 2023 edition of its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), that 23 countries have fallen to their lowest-ever level in the global ranking index.
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“There has been a global decline in justice and the rule of law since 2016,” TI, which has issued the CPI annually for almost three decades, said. “Weakening justice systems that reduce the accountability of public officials is a key factor in allowing corruption to thrive globally.”
“Corruption will continue to thrive until justice systems can punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check,” added the NGO’s Chair Francois Valerian in a statement.
“Leaders should fully invest in and guarantee the independence of institutions that uphold the law and tackle corruption.”
The organisation’s CEO Daniel Eriksson said corruption worsens social injustice and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society.
“In many countries, obstacles to justice for victims of corruption persist,” he said. “It is time to break the barriers and ensure people can access justice effectively.”
TI assesses the perception of corruption using 13 data sources, including the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and private risk and consulting firms.
It assigns rankings on a scale from 0 (“highly corrupt”) to 100 (“very clean”) for 180 countries and territories.
Notably, high-scoring democracies like Iceland, the Netherlands and Sweden experienced a decline in the 2023 index.
Countries perceived as more authoritarian, such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela, also saw their scores drop.
Denmark led the index for the sixth consecutive year, with a score of 90. It was followed by Finland with 87 and New Zealand with 85.
Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg rounded out the top 10.
The United States’ rank was unchanged, scoring 69 points to remain in 24th place.
At the other end of the scale, Somalia came in bottom with a score of 11 points. It was followed by South Sudan, Syria and Venezuela with 13 each. Yemen scored 16; Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, North Korea and Nicaragua were marked at 17.
The global average for 2023 was unchanged at 43 for the 12th consecutive year. More than two-thirds of countries scored below 50.
Only eight countries improved their ranking, including Ireland, South Korea, Maldives and Vietnam.
‘Time to break barriers’
In the Asia Pacific region, TI said there was “little to no meaningful progress” toward fighting corruption. It also expressed concerns about “opacity and undue influence” in justice systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Arab countries’ average score on the index hit an all-time low of 34, while sub-Saharan Africa remained stagnant at 33.
Even in Western Europe and the European Union, the best-performing region, TI found that “weak accountability and political corruption are diminishing public trust and enabling narrow interest groups to exert excessive control over political decision-making”.
Ukraine, with a score of 36, continued an 11-year improvement despite Russia’s invasion, by focusing on reforms of the judicial system, which are an element of its bid to join the EU. However, the report said that “the existence of a significant number of high-level corruption cases remains a major concern”.
Russia’s score dropped to 26. Transparency International said that the government’s “pervasive control of public institutions facilitates the widespread abuse of power without accountability” while judicial independence is eroding.