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The week in corruption, 1 March 2019

Misuse of power

Transparency Int'l

When politicians manipulate their countries’ policies and institutions to sustain their own power and wealth, corruption is usually the winner. The bottom half of our Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is full of countries with flawed democracies or autocratic regimes and serious corruption in their public sectors.

Take Equatorial Guinea whose ruling family has controlled the country’s executive government, legal system and economy for almost 30 years. It’s one of the most resource-rich nations in the world, but kleptocracy means that most of its people live in poverty. The country scores a miserable 16 out of 100 on the CPI.

Last Sunday, political corruption marred Moldova’s parliamentary election. The government allegedly bribed voters and violated campaign financing laws, according to our Moldovan chapter and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Our chapter also noted that the government persecuted political opponents.

A day earlier, Nigerians re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, three weeks after his controversial move to suspend the country’s chief justice. This judge would have heard the legal challenges to the election results that have been filed by the opposition. The suspension seems to have undermined the electoral process.

These instances underline the need for greater transparency to ensure that politicians’ actions are open to public scrutiny, allowing authorities to crack down on abuses of power and citizens to vote the corrupt out of office.

This week, five members of Sri Lanka’s parliament took a strong step towards transparency by making public their declarations of assets and liabilities.

When decision makers declare their assets it’s harder for them to embezzle state resources and take bribes as their property becomes public knowledge. Any irregularities should lead to questions and, where appropriate, criminal investigations.

Asset declaration is just one of many tools for transparency and accountability that we campaign for around the world so that politicians act on behalf of their citizens and corruption is tackled.

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