VOA | By Chris Hannas
A new report lists Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan as the most highly corrupt nations on Earth. Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on Wednesday, relying on what it calls expert opinion from around the world to measure perceived levels of public sector corruption.
Low scores mean more corruption, and the report gave Somalia and North Korea an eight, while putting Afghanistan at 11.
No country scored a perfect 100, but a few came close, with Denmark at 91, and Finland and Sweden each at 90.
‘Blight’ across globe
Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International, said the report shows corruption is still a “blight” across the globe.
“But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption,” he said. “People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: It is time to tackle grand corruption.”
Transparency International said more than 6 billion people — the vast majority of the global population — are living in countries “with a serious corruption problem.”
‘Serious corruption problem’
The worst performing region is sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana ranks as one of the better countries in the world with a 63, but the report says most of those countries have a “serious corruption problem.”
“In many countries, including low scorers Angola, Burundi and Uganda, we’re seeing a failure to prosecute corrupt public officials on the one hand, and intimidation of citizens who speak out against corruption on the other,” the report says. It calls on governments to make sure the rule of law applies to everyone.
Among the most corrupt nations are countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are dealing with the battle against the Islamic State group and persistent political instability.
Islamic State fighters seized large areas in Iraq and Syria in mid-2014 and have managed to remain in control of major cities despite international military efforts. The report gives Iraq a 16 and Syria an 18 in terms of public corruption.
“The rise of ISIS and the ensuing fight against terrorism have been used by many governments as an excuse to crack down on civil liberties and civil society,” Transparency International says, using an acronym for the militant group. “Far from helping, such an approach means that entrenched corrupt networks go unchallenged, often serving as yet further financial fodder for terrorism.”
Elsewhere in the region, the report scored Libya at 16, Jordan at 53 and noted improvements in Saudi Arabia, particularly with the expanded inclusion of women in politics, giving the country a 52 on the index.
In Europe, Transparency International cited concerns about harsh restrictions on civil society and free media in low-scoring countries Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.
It also expressed worry about “marked deterioration” in Hungary, Macedonia, Spain and Turkey, saying each once had hope for positive change but now has growing corruption and shrinking democracy.
The region has some of the least corrupt nations in the world, but the report says even leaders Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway have had major corruption cases in the past year.
Asia, the report says, is a region united by corruption, yet shows little sign of taking action against it.
“From campaign pledges to media coverage to civil society reforms, corruption dominates discussion.”
Japan easily tops Asian nations with a score of 75, while the index gives China a 37, 35 for the Philippines and 21 for both Cambodia and Myanmar.
Transparency International says countries in the Americas need systemic reform, especially when it comes to making judiciaries free from political influence. It also calls for better regional cooperation to prevent corrupt individuals from hiding in another country.
Canada at 83 is the region’s top scorer, with the United States close behind at 76. Uruguay and Chile also score as some of the least corrupt nations, while Haiti and Venezuela rank near the bottom with scores of 17.
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