Transparency International has released its 2013 findings regarding global corruption and bribery. The implications of corruption and bribery are manifold: they decrease confidence in governments, make it difficult for the poor and disconnected to get out of poverty, and break down trust throughout society. In fact, Transparency International found that two institutions that should be the most trusted (police and the judiciary) are the ones most riddled with corruption, world-wide.
Here is one example:
Fifty-year old Carmela [name has been changed] was sleeping at home when she was woken by banging and shouting from the apartment above, where her son lives. Rushing upstairs, she says she found the 27-year-old mechanic being beaten by police officers. Ignoring her cries, the officers dragged him from the apartment and took him to their local headquarters, where they demanded payment for his release. Carmela’s problem is not new in her community, a makeshift settlement where local people claim to suffer constant harassment from certain police officers who demand bribes in return for leaving them in peace. Fearing retaliation, people find a way to pay the officers, who reportedly ask for as much as several thousand US dollars. But for Carmela, a housekeeper with four children, one suffering from cancer, this was impossible. Acting on Carmela’s behalf, Transparency International Venezuela contacted senior government and police officials, calling on them to take action. As a result, when she went to the local police headquarters to pay the bribe, the state authorities were watching. As soon as the money changed hands, they moved in and arrested the officers involved. Her son was released without payment. The police officers were detained and now await trial, while a full investigation is underway.
The countries with the highest bribery rates are in sub-Saharan Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia, Yemen and Kenya topping the list. The study also looked at how political connections played a role in the ability to do business or conduct personal affairs in a country. 51 countries reported that political parties were the most corrupt institutions, and Greece topped that list.
While the majority of those surveyed believed that people could make a difference in their own country in helping to stop corruption and bribery, many said they never reported the crimes because they felt it would do no good. However, those surveyed also reported that they were willing to begin the process, by doing things like signing petitions and using social media to tackle the problem.
Transparency International also offers a set of interactive maps detailing country-by-country results of where corruption is the greatest, and which institutions most need reform. Transparency International now has 90 centers around the globe that offer free, confidential help to those who have witnessed or suffered from corruption. Getting corruption under control is one more important step in the fight against the alleviation of poverty, and the continuing struggle for liberty for all persons.