True stories

Drastic Measures

At the age of 84, Alma* set about writing her will. She owned a plot of land that had been in her family for decades, and intended to leave it to her daughter. On checking the deeds, however, it transpired that six square metres of her property officially belonged to someone else. Alma went to court to claim ownership of the plot in its entirety, and was granted it. On checking over the documentation, however, Alma noticed a significant misprint. Instead of the six square metres in question, the court had adjudicated upon six square centimetres.

Alma promptly returned to court to have the ruling overturned, but was refused. She spent the next year in and out of various courts, all the way to Kazakhstan's Supreme Court. But to no avail. At which point Alma contacted Transparency International (TI) Kazakhstan.

TI Kazakhstan contacted the judges who had been involved in Alma's case, but, bizarrely, each one maintained that the ruling could not be reversed. So TI lawyers turned to the media instead. The case received broad coverage in the press and on national television, prompting court officials to renege on their initial ruling. Alma's deeds were amended, and she was finally able to complete her will.

Alma's case illustrates some of the shortcomings of Kazakhstan's judicial system with great clarity. A system that repeatedly denies an elderly lady what is rightfully hers is in urgent need of reform.

* Names have been changed



Transparency International provides free advice and legal support to victims and witnesses of corruption in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2009 alone, more than 20,000 people sought help.

Healthcare Under Threat

At an emergency clinic in rural Moldova eight nurses received an unexpected pay cut. The nurses asked their managers why they hadn't been paid in full, and were told that they'd been performing poorly, and wouldn't be compensated. The nurses protested, and their bosses threatened to fire them and close down the medical centre. Doing so would deprive 15,000 people of local emergency healthcare.

One of the nurses, Irina*, turned to Transparency International (TI) Moldova for help. She brought a petition with her, signed by 150 local residents who were concerned about the centre's potential closure. TI Moldova helped Irina draft a letter to the county prosecutor and the state medical authorities in the capital Chişinău.

The county prosecutor claimed that there was nothing illegal in withholding a proportion of the nurses' salaries if they had been performing badly. The health centre's upper management, however, was greatly concerned by the threat to close down the centre. It assured the nurses that this wouldn't happen, and saw to it that they were paid in full for the hours they had worked.

The medical centre was not only kept open, but it was assigned additional doctors and provided with much needed ambulance equipment. The local authorities have also assured all staff members that their salaries will not be arbitrarily withheld.

* Names have been changed



Transparency International provides free advice and legal support to victims and witnesses of corruption in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2009 alone, more than 20,000 people sought help.

Balancing the budget

A vast number of Palestinians in the West Bank live in abject poverty. Many lack access to health and education facilities, and countless buildings, roads and sewage systems are in urgent need of repair. Instances of government officials misusing public funds have fuelled calls for the Palestinian Authority to introduce tighter controls on public sector spending.

Through its work with the public, Transparency International Palestine (AMAN) received a number of complaints about the use of government cars. In 2009, more than 6,000 civil servants owned one, and €18 million was being spent on their fuel, maintenance and licensing. Many of the cars were frequently used for private journeys, or by friends and relatives. Some were reportedly even being sent abroad.

AMAN took its findings to the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry admitted that it was aware of the problem, but lacked the resources to tackle it. So AMAN undertook to assist them. It launched a broad-based media campaign comprising radio, billboard and newspaper advertisements, encouraging citizens to phone in incidents of public vehicle misuse via AMAN's free hotline.

Sure enough, the initiative was a huge success. Within a short space of time AMAN logged more than 150 complaints, which were relayed back to the Ministry of Transport for further investigation. Knowing that this was unlikely to bring about lasting change, however, AMAN called on Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to address the issue more systematically.

Consequently, Palestine's Council of Ministers (PNA) declared a ban on the use of all government vehicles outside office hours, with the exception of the Prime Minister and his deputy. In 2010 around 6,200 vehicles were reclaimed from civil servants. Some of them were given to the government ministries for shared use, but the majority could be purchased by civil servants to use privately.

AMAN realises that this is only one step towards reform, and a lot of work remains to be done to bring integrity and transparency to government spending.







Transparency International provides free advice and legal support to victims and witnesses of corruption in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2009 alone, more than 20,000 people sought help.

Gold mine

Rwanda's economy was gradually recovering from the devastating impact of years of civil conflict when one mining cooperative discovered it had lost more than it thought.

In 2008, a change in Rwandan law meant the cooperative had to renew its certificate. This task fell to the group's president, who was an influential member of the community.

Yet members of the cooperative claim that the president forged the ownership documents and re-registered the mine under his own name. They appealed to local leaders, but the leaders sided with the president.

The cooperative then wrote to Rwanda's Public Prosecutor Authority to request an investigation. When months passed by without a response, they turned to Transparency International (TI) Rwanda, who drafted an appeal for expedience and forwarded it to the prosecutor general.

As a result, the case came to court, and in a stunning victory the cooperative's president was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and fined the equivalent of around US $3,400. Ownership of the mine was returned to the group, who are now working to increase its output for the benefit of the community.

TI Rwanda has since been approached with three more cases related to mine exploitation; encouraging evidence that demand for accountability is growing.



Transparency International provides free advice and legal support to victims and witnesses of corruption in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2009 alone, more than 20,000 people sought help.