Transparency International recently released the results of its 2016 Corruptions Perceptions Index, a survey of perceived levels of corruption in the public sectors of 176 countries and territories. “No country,” Transparency International immediately observes, “gets close to a perfect score.” In fact, corruption perceptions grew worse, not better, for most countries in 2016. The survey results show the connection between corruption and inequalities in the distribution of wealth and power. These inequalities are contributing to a global rise in populist ideology and leadership.
Transparency International highlights the issue of grand corruption, noting that the “collusion between businesses and politicians denies national economies of billions of dollars of revenues that were siphoned off to benefit the few at the expense of the many.” The global anti-corruption organization also warns that it is “still far too easy for the rich and powerful to exploit the opaqueness of the global financial system to enrich themselves at the expense of the public good.”
Restrictions on the press contribute to this opaqueness and are also a symptom of it. Countries where people perceive higher levels of corruption have more deadly attacks and overall abuse of journalists, less press freedom, and fewer independent press organizations. South Sudan, for example, was one of the most deadly places in the world to be a journalist in 2016. Sudanese intelligence and security agents suppressed the media and led massive confiscations of newspapers in late 2016, continuing the destructive trend that had increased that year. In the DRC, journalist detention, harassment, mugging, and beating have also been used to quell dissent.
Amid worsening corruption perception levels, Enough Project’s countries of focus are among the worst performers on the list of 176. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ranked at 156, Central African Republic (CAR) at 159, Sudan at 170, South Sudan at 175, and Somalia is last. DRC, CAR, and South Sudan performed worse than last year, and Somalia held its position in the bottom slot. These rankings suggest that, as people across the globe experienced worsening corruption in 2016, the public perceptions in Enough’s countries of focus — where corruption levels have already been at critically low levels — have worsened even further.
To analyze the systems in these particular countries, the Enough Project has developed a framework called “violent kleptocracy,” defined as the systems of state capture in which ruling networks and commercial partners hijack governing institutions for the purpose of resource extraction and for the security of the regime. Our analysis of violent kleptocracy shapes our policy recommendations to address the problems. Enough’s initiative, The Sentry, follows the money to disrupt the corrupt networks responsible for genocide and other mass atrocities in Africa and has found that proceeds of grand corruption are laundered and stashed abroad by the kleptocrats and their networks.
In order to change the dynamics highlighted in the Transparency International report and The Sentry’s investigations, the Enough Project has called for the expanded use of modernized financial pressure tools – in particular anti-money laundering measures – to stop violent kleptocrats from capturing state institutions to facilitate the looting of public resources.
- Click here to read our January 2017 report, “Weapons of Mass Corruption,” on how massive corruption in South Sudan’s military undermines the country.
- Click here to read our November 2016 report, “A Criminal State,” on the system of violence and corruption structured to allow the Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila and his close associates to maintain power and profit from natural resource deals at the expense of country’s development.
- Click here to read The Sentry’s September 2016 report, “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay,” that exposed top South Sudanese officials who have managed to accumulate fortunes profiting from massive corruption, fueling and exploiting a brutal civil war.
- Click here to read our August 2016 report, “Khartoum’s Economic Achilles’ Heel,” showing how the Sudanese elites effectively hijacked the national economy and exploited that power to generate benefits for themselves. Stay tuned for a new forthcoming Sudan report.
- Click here to read our July 2016 report, “A Hope from Within? Countering the intentional destruction of governance and transparency in South Sudan,” that examines the challenges that face institutions of governance in South Sudan.