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Worldwide corruption on the rise as public trust plummets - report

Published time: July 10, 2013 04:44
Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

A report by Transparency International has revealed the extent of worldwide corruption over the last two years, with Israel and Greece showing the highest levels among developed countries. Politicians are considered the most corrupt among all sectors.

The Global Corruption Barometer 2013, conducted by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog, is a sampling of over 114,000 opinions of people from 107 countries. The survey asked participants about corruption and the institutions engaged in it.

The report shows that corruption numbers have increased over the last two years, along with the number of people exhibiting distrust toward their governments and law enforcement agencies.

Before the 2008 financial meltdown, 32 per cent of people believed their governments to be effective at tackling corruption. That figure has now fallen to just 23 per cent. Transparency International said in a press release that the report “shows a crisis of trust in politics and real concern about the capacity of those institutions responsible for bringing criminals to justice.”

The survey asked participants to rank the corruption levels of various institutions from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not corrupt at all” and 5 being “extremely corrupt.”

Political parties were perceived to be the most corrupt institutions worldwide, scoring 3.8 out of 5. Police forces came in second place with a score of 3.7. Public officials, civil servants, and the parliament and judiciary came in third place, scoring 3.6.

The media came in ninth place, although it was voted to be the most corrupt sector in Britain. The UK media has lost the respect of many residents in recent years – around 69 per cent of survey participants now believe the media is corrupt, compared to just 39 per cent in 2010.

"This very sharp jump is in large part due to the series of scandals around phone hacking, the Leveson Inquiry, and the concentration of media ownership,” said Robert Barrington, head of the British wing of Transparency International.

Business and private sectors, along with the healthcare sector, came in at eighth on the corruption scale, with the education system not far behind. The military and NGOs took the 10th and 11th places.

Although religion came in last place on the corruption scale, it still ranked among the most corrupt in certain countries, including Israel, Japan, Sudan and South Sudan.

Of all OECD members surveyed, the corruption levels of Greece and Israel came in first and second place respectively, with their political and cultural institutions ranking at the top of the corruption meter.

Over 80 per cent of Israelis believe that one must have contacts very high up in the public sector in order to get anything done. Transparency International says it sees “deep-rooted failures of governance” in Israel. A similar figure was seen in Lebanon, Russia, and Ukraine.

AFP Photo / John Macdougall

Arab countries have seen a rise in corruption since their 2011 uprisings, although public anger against corrupt officials was what sparked the Arab Spring in the first place. The expectation of having cleaner, more transparent regimes did not match the countries’ political and business realities.

Of the four countries that experienced regime change in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen feel that corruption has only increased since 2011. While 64 per cent of Egyptians think corruption is on the rise, a staggering 80 per cent of Tunisians believe that to be the case within their country.  Eighty-four per cent of Lebanese citizens believe corruption to be on the rise in within their nation, while only around half of Libyans believe that corruption is worsening.

Egypt leads the pack in anti-police sentiments, largely because police violence has injured so many people over the past year. The 80 per cent disapproval rating dropped to only 45 per cent when Egyptians were asked about the military, which just several days ago ousted former Islamist-backed president Mohamed Morsi.

To glean more analysis on the increasing slide into corruption and public distrust of political institutions, RT talked to Finn Heinrich, who is director of research at Transparency International in Berlin. He sees the world as split into two major trends. The first is petty corruption and bribery in the southern hemisphere – mostly Africa, where citizens feel there is no other way to take care of one’s day-to-day needs. The second is corruption on a more official level, which is witnessed in the northern and western parts of the world – mainly in business and politics governed by financial greed.

As a way out of the situation, Heinrich believes “you really need to be in it in a long-term. You can’t expect quick gains from the fight against corruption. So, I think what we see in many of those countries are the upheavals which you find in many countries, including many post-communist countries, after revolution where old systems are no longer intact and new systems are yet to be built. So, corruption is on the rise. We hope that the new leaders, compared to their predecessors, are really taking the challenge of setting up systems of transparency and accountability much more serious.”

Heinrich thinks that only an integral and comprehensive effort can last, and that effort must include both the government and its citizens.

Transparency International is the world’s foremost organization on fighting corruption. It has 90 chapters worldwide, which aim to raise awareness and establish methods of tackling corruption and measuring its harmful effects.

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