The most corrupt countries in the world – just like in 2019 – are South Sudan, Somalia and Syria, according to a new report released by Transparency International.
South Sudan ranked 179 out of 180 countries studied in the report.
The 2020 index used expert assessments and survey to rank countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.
Denmark and New Zealand received 88 points, while Syria, with 14 points, and Somalia and South Sudan with 12 points each.
“With an average score of 32, Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest-performing region on the CPI, showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action,” partly reads the report.
The Berlin-based organization said the ranking revealed widespread corruption was weakening the coronavirus response across the world, especially in North Africa.
“Across the region, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights structural gaps in national health care systems, corruption risks associated with public procurement and the misappropriation of emergency funds,” it continues.
Nearly half of countries have been stagnant on the index for almost a decade, the report said, adding that it is an indication of stalled government efforts to tackle the root causes of corruption.
More than two-thirds of the countries scored below 50 points.
South Sudan’s similar ranking to 2019 is a testament of the impunity leaders exercise in managing public resources.
Leaders who accused of corruption are not arrested, charged or prosecuted.
Transparency International attributed the reasons to a weak democratic foundation and manipulation of undemocratic and populist politicians who use it to their advantage.
Previous anti-corruption commissions had never released any report in years or submitted names to the courts for prosecution.
At the higher levels, the UN reported that millions of dollars have continued to be siphoned out of the country by the elites.
President Salva Kiir acknowledged that the country is not getting enough from the non-oil revenue following the decline in oil production and sales.
He told the public last year that senior officials have been pocketing taxpayers’ money.
At the lower levels, bribery continues to impede access to basic services.
Some civil servants, including security officers, have admitted that they demand bribes from the public due to delayed salary payment and the economic meltdown.
The common forms of corruption in the security sector include freeing of suspects in exchange for money, conspiring with criminals and organized crime gangs in the trafficking of drugs, humans and weapons.
A report conducted by the Sentry in 2019 showed top government officials as profiteers in the South Sudan conflict.
According to the report, “kleptocratic” South Sudan leaders and foreign individuals and companies have accumulated billions of dollars.
It recommended to the international community to deny corrupt officials from accessing luxury goods and property abroad.
The Sentry also demanded going after entire networks, including international facilitators, and sounding the alarm on corrupt real estate acquisitions.
The National Dialogue Initiative also recommended that a new Anti-Corruption Commission be supervised by the national assembly and not the Executive.
This, they say, would make it possible to punish those involved in corruption across South Sudan.
In 2020, New Zealand and Denmark ranked the least corrupt countries.
Transparency International called on countries ranking low, such as South Sudan to ensure open and transparent contracting to combat wrongdoing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing.
“Institutions charged with providing basic public services should be more transparent and accountable in their operations. Improved policies and mechanisms are needed to allow citizens to access public information, demand accountability and safely report corruption,” it advises.
It urges governments to defend democracy and promote civic space to create the enabling conditions to hold governments accountable.
The organization concluded that each country should publish relevant data and guarantee access to information to ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information.
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