Although 2019 was marked by massive protests from citizens who called for an end to corruption in several countries, among other demands, a large number of countries had little or no improvement in fighting corruption. The conclusion is the Corruption Perception Index (ICP) 2019, published on Thursday by the NGO Transparency International.
In the last positions of the ranking of 180 countries are countries devastated by civil conflicts or governed by undemocratic regimes. This is no accident, as corruption tends to spread where the rule of law is weak and civil society is not organized, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Countries with the lowest scores in ICP 2019
PositionCountryPunctuation172North Korea17173Afeganistan16173Ecatorial Guinea16173Sudan16173Venezuela16177Yemen15178Syria13179South Sudan12180Somalia9
Somalia is not only one of the most corrupt countries in the world, it is also "one of the most protracted cases of statelessness", according to the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index. The fragility of the State and the Law favors corruption, from bribery to corruption at high levels of government. The country is practically a no-man's land: the territory is divided between an internationally recognized government, an area controlled by the Islamic militia Al Shabaab, a semi-autonomous government in Puntland (northwest of the country) and a separatist government in Somaliland (north of the country) ).
Al Shabaab carried out the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of Africa, and one of the deadliest in the world, in 2017, when a truck bomb exploded in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. In total, 587 people died and more than 300 people were injured.
Elections are limited and dominated by corruption. "Corruption is rampant in Somalia, including in the security sector and the state agencies charged with fighting it do not work effectively. Impunity is the norm for public officials accused of malpractice," says Freedom House.
The youngest country in the world has faced civil war for most of its existence as an independent country – status achieved in 2011. In 2013, a dispute between the president and his then deputy led to conflict between political leaders of different ethnicities. More than 50,000 people were killed – some estimates say 400,000 were killed – and nearly 4 million were displaced or fled to other countries, according to the Global Conflict Tracker. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2018, acts of violence continue in the country.
Corruption in South Sudan is rampant, according to Freedom House, and widespread among political and military leaders. State resources, including oil revenues, are concentrated in the hands of elites associated with the president.
Political rights and civil liberties in Syria are severely compromised by one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and other ongoing civil war forces, according to Freedom House. The conflicts have killed more than 400,000 people since 2011. As of March 2019, some 5.7 million Syrians have left the country, according to the UN.
Corruption, enforced disappearances, military trials and torture are widespread in areas controlled by dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime. Corruption is also widespread in areas controlled by the rebels, with charges against commanders of looting, extortion and theft. The civil war has weakened institutions and allowed corruption to become rife, with little or no verification of official abuse.
Yemen is yet another country ravaged by civil war and facing widespread corruption. The conflicts started in 2015, when international powers led by Saudi Arabia supported the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi against the rebel movement of the Houthis, based on the Shiite community Zaidi, a minority group in Yemen.
Government transparency was already low even before the conflict started. "A network of corruption established by the government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has remained entrenched in public institutions, and formal mechanisms to combat corruption were largely ineffective," says the Freedon House.
With legal trade hampered by the civil war, the black market gained momentum, creating new opportunities for acts of corruption. Humanitarian aid food is often stolen and sold on the black market on all sides of the conflict.
Venezuela is going through a deep humanitarian and political crisis that has already forced more than 3 million Venezuelans to leave the country since 2014. Political dissent is repressed and opponents of Nicolás Maduro's dictatorial regime are persecuted without a fair trial. The severe economic crisis and the shortage of food and medicine have left millions of people struggling to get basic items.
Maduro was re-elected in May 2018 for a six-year term in elections that were widely considered fraudulent by the international community. Two weeks after his inauguration in January 2019, National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó was proclaimed Venezuela's interim president and immediately recognized by Brazil, the United States and several other countries as the country's legitimate leader.
However, Maduro maintains power, thanks in large part to the support of Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba.
The country ranked last among the nations of the Americas in this year's ICP. Corruption is widespread in the government and generally in the country. Chavista policies to control prices and currency have led to an increase in black market transactions and cooperation between public officials and organized crime networks, Freedom House points out.
Sudan went through a series of protests in 2019 that eventually toppled the dictator Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for 30 years and was replaced by a military council. The protests before and after Bashir's fall were marked by serious human rights violations against the protesters.
Corruption was rampant in the country among the elite and security agencies linked to Bashir's party and efforts to fight it were insufficient. Despite the government's overthrow, the challenges of fighting corruption remain in Sudan, which scored one of the worst scores in the 2019 CPI.
Equatorial Guinea is governed by an authoritarian regime that took power in a coup in 1979. Wealth and political power are concentrated in the hands of the president's family. According to the NGO Freedom House, there are no independent anti-corruption mechanisms in the country, and the government is marked by nepotism and corruption. In September 2018, Brazilian authorities confiscated $ 1.5 million in cash and twelve watches worth an estimated $ 12 million from Vice President Teodorín Nguema Obiang Mangue during a visit to the country.
The country needs assistance from the International Monetary Fund to deal with a severe economic crisis, but the IMF warned in December that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo must declare his assets before receiving financial aid. His regime is accused by the USA and France of wiping out the vast oil wealth of the Central African nation.
In Afghanistan, political rights and civil liberties are undermined by violence, corruption and fraudulent electoral processes.
In 2016, an Anti-Corruption Justice Center was established, which promoted arrests and trials of civilians and military accused of corruption. However, corruption remains an "endemic problem", according to Freedom House. Law enforcement agencies and the judiciary themselves are plagued by political pressure and corruption, and the most powerful authorities and politicians enjoy impunity.
Afghanistan observers report that many high-ranking positions in the government can only be obtained through bribery payments to individuals in ministerial or presidential offices.
In December, a series of reports from the Washington Post showed documents about the 18 US military campaign in Afghanistan that reveal that the United States did not always tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan. Among the points brought up by the documents, is the fact that the huge amount of money that Washington spent in Afghanistan also gave rise to unprecedented levels of corruption in the country, and that the American government turned a blind eye when Afghan officials stole with impunity.
One of the most secluded countries in the world, North Korea is governed by a dynastic totalitarian dictatorship. Political dissent is completely repressed through arbitrary arrests and severe punishments, which include arrests in political prison camps where torture and forced labor are common. There are no independent or impartial anti-corruption mechanisms and corruption is believed to be endemic at all levels of the state and the economy, according to Freedom House.