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The week in corruption, 22 February 2019

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Transparency Int'l

The meaning of commitment

This week, Maldives police arrested the former president Abdulla Yameen after he was implicated in a massive corruption scandal that involved leasing islands and reefs in return for alleged bribes and kickbacks.

Yameen’s arrest is a positive step for the new Maldives government, but many more people — including other politicians — received money from a private bank used to pay the alleged bribes. The government has a lot more to do to hold all of those implicated to account.

As in other countries, the new government of the Maldives campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. Others have not yet shown a lot of progress. Last year, Jordan’s prime minister came to power after nationwide protests, but he is yet to follow through on anti-corruption commitments. India’s government has done little to build the transparency and accountability promised in the 2014 elections. And in some countries, where leaders pledged to clean up, corruption may even be getting worse: this year the United States lost four points on our Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating a growing perception that corruption is going in the wrong direction

At times like this, the work of independent watchdogs is ever more important. Many investigative journalists are taking huge risks by uncovering how corrupt deals are struck. It was journalists at OCCRP — a global crime reporting project — who detailed the scheme in the Maldives. One year ago this week, the young Slovakian investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancé Martina Kušnírová were murdered, apparently in revenge for his reporting.

Ján lost his life uncovering the truth, but his legacy lives on. If only the people with real power were as committed.

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