The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) yesterday released the results of the 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) with Liberia ranking 122/180, a CPI score of 31.
According to the release, Liberia’s CPI score has declined from 41 in 2012 to 37 and 31 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Compared to other countries globally, Liberia is the second biggest decliner with minus 6 points from its CPI scores in 2016 (37) to (31) in 2017.
“The only country we outperformed in the sub region is Guinea that scored 27, all others have better standings and rankings than ours, including Ghana (40) and Ivory coast (36),” the release said.
The CPI was established in 1995 and is used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world. CPI scores and ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived, according to experts and business people.
The score ranges from 0 to 100, where 0 equals the highest level of perceived corruption, while 100 equals lowest level of perceived corruption.
This year, 180 countries were targeted, four more than in 2016. Findings show that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, as more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average global score of 43.
Unfortunately, compared to recent years, this poor performance is nothing new, as corruption still remains a major challenge globally.
Further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries are risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out. Countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
In 2017, New Zealand and Denmark ranked highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively with Syria, South Sudan and Somalia ranking the lowest with scores of 14, 12 and nine, while the best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66.
Meanwhile, the worst performing regions are sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34).
Although no country is free of corruption, those that remain at the top share characteristics of open government, press freedom, civil liberties and independent judiciary, while countries at the bottom are characterized by widespread impunity for corruption, poor governance and weak institutions.
In Africa, the best performers include Botswana (61), Seychelles (60), Rwanda (55) and Cape Verde (55).
In West Africa, for example, the best performers include Senegal (45), Burkina Faso (42), Ghana (40) and Benin (39).
CENTAL says it is “deeply concerned about Liberia’s continuous underperformance, especially its position as the Second Worst Decliner worldwide. This speaks to government’s inability to address an entrenched culture of impunity and enforce existing laws and policies.”
Delayed investigation and prosecution of alleged corrupt officials, due to lack of political will, shielding of officials and appointment of relatives and cronies in key positions of trust, are seriously undermining the country’s corruption fight.
While this result evaluates former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s final year in office, it represents a challenge President George Weah has to address during his administration. It behooves the new administration to take giant steps in addressing the culture of impunity, which is the main reason for Liberia’s poor performance.
To reverse the trend and improve Liberia’s standing in the region and globally, CENTAL recommends:
- that President Weah and his government officials to declare and publish their assets, which is an important first step in promoting accountability and addressing corruption in government;
- that the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) conducts a comprehensive audit of the past administration to ensure that those who allegedly embezzled public resources are identified and prosecuted;
- that the government should end the culture of impunity by mustering the necessary political will to prosecute alleged corrupt officials of the previous Sirleaf administration and those accused of corruption in the current government;
- that the government should scrupulously enforce existing anti-corruption laws and polices, including the Code of Conduct for public officials, which requires public officials to declare their assets as well as establishment of an Ombudsman to oversee its implementation.
Other recommendations called for the establishment of a specialized court to speedily prosecute corruption cases and pass whistleblower protection and other relevant laws to enhance the fight against corruption; ensure the independence and vibrancy of anti-corruption by giving them full moral, financial and logistical support to enable them to effectively operate; and that anti-corruption institutions like the LACC, General Auditing Commission and Internal Audit Agency must set very high standards for officials and agencies of government.
They must do more to uphold public trust and confidence as leaders of the country’s integrity building and anti-corruption efforts; to ensure a safe and secure environment for the media, civil society and other advocates to thrive, CENTAL said.