Friday, 4 October 2013

10 Most Corrupt Countries in the World

Everybody despairs at corruption in government, and it’s unsettling to see how prevalent and deep it runs. While some countries enjoy high levels of freedom and transparency, others are cloaked in secrecy to hide incidents of embezzlement, nepotism, and violence. Some of the countries on this list are dictatorships;

others try to put on the pretense of democracy and fail dismally. The following countries are scored on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) on the 2012 Corruption Perception Index, created by Transparency International. Although no country had a perfect score, more than half scored below 50, indicating an endemic problem with corruption worldwide. Either way, it makes Chicago politics look downright clean, no?

Haiti – 1
Extreme poverty in Haiti is the norm for almost all but the elite few who run the government, and has remained so even after the overthrow of former dictators and numerous promises of reform. Although it experienced its first peaceful transition of power in the 2011 election won by current President Michel Martelly, it remains shadowed by corruption. Less than a year after the election, Martelly was accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from a Dominican Republic construction company, as well as protecting former president-for-life Jean-Claude Duvalier (who had spent 20 years in a self-imposed exile in France after he was deposed in 1986) from being charged for torture and murder during his reign. Additionally, Haiti’s two anti-corruption bodies, the Central Financial Enquiry Unit and the Unit in the Fight Against Corruption have repeatedly refused to pursue allegations of embezzlement and corruption within the government, most likely at the pressure of the current administration.

Venezuela – 2
Venezuela has repeatedly found itself near the top of the world’s most-corrupt countries list following the discovery of oil in the early 1900s. Oil is now known as “the devil’s excrement” for the negative effects it has on governments that harbor large quantities of the resource. With limited budget openness, nearly nonexistent freedom of the press, and the lowest ranked judicial independence system in the world, its corruption perception soared under the 14-year reign of former President Hugo Chávez. Although the recent March 2013 election of Nicolás Maduro (following Chávez’s death) may bring some changes, his assumption of power was challenged as suspicious and may foreshadow future corruption in his presidency.

Iraq – 3
The U.S. War on Terror that led forces to Iraq to overthrow former dictator Saddam Hussein was supposed to bring democracy and peace to the oil-rich but freedom-poor country. Since he was deposed, however, corruption has continued at high rates, and promises of reform have gone unfulfilled. President Jalal Talabani, in office since 2005, has made claim after claim of fighting corruption and uniting the diverse factions of the Iraqi people, but has himself been accused of allocating nearly $1 million dollars a month to fund his own office. With regard to openness of budget, Iraq is listed as having “scant to none,” – not exactly a promising description.

Turkmenistan – 4
When a president receives 97 percent of the vote, as President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow did in 2012 – his most recent election for his second term – something seems fishy. In fact, during his first election, no opposition parties were permitted to elect a candidate to run against him. Bribery is pervasive in Turkmenistan’s government, and under Berdimuhamedow’s rule, the costs of bribes for everything from traffic offenses to more serious crimes have risen dramatically. The country ranks extraordinarily low for rule of law and accountability, and is widely considered an authoritarian regime despite its claims of democracy.

Uzbekistan –5
In power since 1991, President Islam Karimov has maintained his hold on Uzbekistan with the help of ruthless security forces, along with the interior ministry. They have dismantled civil society groups that buck state policy, and Karimov’s administration effectively acts as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. In exchange for strategic support in the war in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan escaped the pressure of Western nations for more freedom and democracy in the country. They turned  a blind eye to human rights violations. The government has been accused of widespread torture, kidnapping, murder, rape by the police, financial corruption, religious persecution, and censorship. But at least they were helpful in an unwinnable war, right?

Myanmar – 6
Despite some milestone achievements in recent years such as the release of famed political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the deregulation of government-censored media, Myanmar continues to struggle with corruption. An enormous illicit economy exists and is notoriously protected by the ruling elite, especially organized crime, drug, and human trafficking activities. The election of President Thein Sein in 2011 led to a handful of positive reforms and an increase in international relations, but 40 years of military rule, political violence and the systematic oppression of political opposition are difficult legacies to overcome.

Sudan – 7
After the independence of South Sudan in 2011, corruption in Sudan itself has only increased. President Omar al-Bashir established an anti-graft agency to increase accountability, but it is widely viewed as a cosmetic gesture, as no corruption has been reported since its inception. Embezzlement and fraud are common occurrences within government, and its open-budget rating is also considered “scant to none.” It is common to see millions of dollars come in from countries such as Algeria and Qatar, but no remark on where the money is spent. Al-Bashir is also accused of genocide and war crimes in Darfur, considered one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian crises of the modern age. However, with the control that the executive branch exerts over the judicial, it is impossible to get a conviction.

Afghanistan – 8
High hopes for a democratic Afghanistan once it was freed from Taliban rule were dashed when the alliance realized that instituting democracy was going to be harder than it thought. Although President Hamid Karzai is thought to be an ally of the West, he has done little to curb corruption throughout the country, even with regard to the suspected fraud in his own election. Additionally, financial scandals have abounded, illegal land-grabbing remains a constant concern (both by government forces and individuals), and terrorist organizations face little opposition in operating within the country’s borders.

North Korea – 9
Amid the daily concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, an erratic and inexperienced Kim Jong-un continues to threaten Western targets with potential missile attacks (although the number of memes that have popped up at his expense reveal that most people are wholly unconcerned). But draconian laws within the country are what really reveal the level of corruption North Koreans face, such as bans on foreign media, complete government control over radio and TV, and pervasive bribery within the police force. It is becoming less and less common for North Koreans to attempt to report on corruption. Fear of retaliation from the regime is high and expectations for results are low. And as Dennis Rodman’s incredible diplomacy efforts apparently failed to curb corruption activities, it seems the world may be out of options.

Somalia – 10
It’s a tough job to out-corrupt North Korea, but Somalia appeared up for it in 2012. A nonexistent system for accountability in the expenditure of public funds, abundant graft, and continued misplacement of international donor funds helped push Somalia to the top of the list. Promised reform has yet to take effect. A prolonged civil war in the 1990s, followed by an unstable and ineffective transitional government, allowed for corruption to take hold while the country was in a fragile state, and it has not yet been corrected. Current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud took office in September 2012 and has been widely credited for attempts at reform, including the establishment of a joint financial management board (with international stakeholders) to ensure transparency in government, but its effectiveness has not been revealed as of yet. But there are signs of hope: the public sector has become gradually more free as the transitional government phased into the federal government of Somalia. Hopefully it won’t reclaim this top spot in 2013!

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