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What does corruption feel like?

The week in corruption, 18 September 2020

Illustration by Sheyda Sabetian

Transparency Int'l

Last week, we wrote about the importance of safeguarding COVID-19 relief funds from corruption.

But what does corruption look like, in times of disease and quarantine?

It is a Venezuelan doctor threatened by officers from a branch of the national police implicated in extrajudicial killings, because he tried to resign from a hospital that would not protect him from COVID-19.

It is a fire that killed five patients in a St. Petersburg hospital, sparked by a ventilator purchased in a suspicious procurement deal.

It is citizens who must break lockdown rules to feed their families because they never received the economic support promised by their representatives, like in Nigeria or Sri Lanka.

These are just a few of the 1,500 reports of corruption related to COVID-19 that our Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres received since the beginning of the pandemic.

More often than not, people who contact us to report corruption feel a sense of helplessness that, despite their best efforts, those who commit wrongdoing will go unpunished. Our job is to give them hope.

Citizens speak up against COVID-19 corruption

These reports weave a common story: they show how the pandemic magnifies corruption in humanitarian aid distribution, police behaviour and the health care sector, and how this most severely affects vulnerable populations, particularly women.

They also reveal the power of our collective voice.

Thanks to people like you who speak out against corruption around the world, we’ve been able to pressure governments to deliver missing aid for families in Sri Lanka, halt the distribution of uncertified masks in hospitals in Italy, sue the government on behalf of victims of corruption in Zimbabwe and work with other independent actors to launch investigations into suspicious government contracts in Russia.

Together, we can ensure COVID-19 funds and services reach those who need them most. Now, more than ever, we must remain vigilant and demand accountability in the face of corruption. But we need your help.

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