Transparency International: Weak Justice Systems Help Corruption Grow

Published: 31 January 2024

judge-gavel-handcuffs-and-money-1461289507EUKWeak justice systems help corruption to progress. (Photo: George Hodan, PublicDomainPictures, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Transparency International warned on Tuesday that the world is sinking deeper into corruption, with a decline in the effectiveness of justice systems, as indicated by its 2023 Corruption Perception Index ranking countries based on their perceived levels of public sector corruption.

The organization noted that the majority of countries have shown minimal to no improvement in tackling public sector corruption, revealing a global average Corruption Perception Index (CPI) where over two-thirds of the 180 countries covered scored below 50, signaling “serious corruption problems.”

It warned that the rise in impunity for corruption is fueled by both authoritarian regimes and democratic leaders undermining justice, with some cases in which they even “encourage it by removing consequences for wrongdoers.”

“Corruption will continue to thrive until justice systems can punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check,” according to François Valérian, Chair of Transparency International.

“Leaders should fully invest in and guarantee the independence of institutions that uphold the law and tackle corruption. It is time to end impunity for corruption,” he said.

He emphasized that when justice is bought or subject to political interference, it is the people who bear the consequences.

Transparency’s CEO, Daniel Eriksson also stressed that “corruption worsens social injustice and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable,” and that “in many countries, obstacles to justice for victims of corruption persist.”

For the sixth consecutive year, Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand have secured the top positions on the CPI list as the least corrupt countries, while Somalia, Venezuela, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen occupy the lowest ranks in the index, as the most corruption-infected countries.

According to the report, over 20 countries, including prominent democracies such as Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as some authoritarian regimes like Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, and Venezuela, have all reached historic lows this year in terms of corruption perception.

The ongoing war in Ukraine poses a challenge to Ukraine’s governance and infrastructure, heightening corruption risks. However, Transparency International reports that the invaded country has maintained an upward trend on the CPI for the 11th consecutive year.

Despite these positive developments, the organization warned that the presence of a substantial number of high-level corruption cases continues to be a significant concern.

In Africa, cases of corruption and related issues within justice systems vary, including reports of bribery, extortion, and political interference in countries like Nigeria, according to Transparency.

The global anti-graft organization emphasized that maintaining independent, transparent, and well-resourced judiciaries and law enforcement institutions is crucial for curbing corruption. It underscored that preventing the influence of political power, bribery, and other corrupt practices on justice systems is essential for ensuring their effectiveness.

Transparency International therefore urged governments to grant justice systems the independence, resources, and transparency necessary to effectively prosecute all corruption cases and establish checks and balances on power.

“It is time to break the barriers and ensure people can access justice effectively. Everyone deserves fair and inclusive legal systems where victims’ voices are heard at every stage,” according to Transparency International CEO Eriksson.

“Anything else is an affront to justice,” he concluded.