Monday, July 15, 2013

Iraq In Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer

Transparency International is an organization committed to documenting and fighting corruption around the world. Recently, it released its “Global Corruption Barometer,” which was a survey of 107 countries on what they thought about graft and bribery. It asked people about the state of corruption in their nation, how institutions were affected by it, and whether it could be countered. As usual, those Iraqis included in the poll did not have a high opinion of their country.

The report started with how countries felt about their institutions. When asked which were the most corrupt, political parties were singled out as the worst by 51 out of 107 nations. The police, 36, and the judiciary, 20 of 107 followed that. The legislature, public officials, medical sector, media, religious bodies, and business were seen as mildly corrupt in comparison, while the military, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the education system were not seen that way at all. Obviously if a country has a problem with graft then those that run the country would be singled out as being responsible. Since the police and judiciary deal with a large segment of the population on a regular basis on an important issue such as crime they also have an incentive to take bribes to let people go. In comparison, unless a country is run by the military there’s not much interaction with the people, and thus few opportunities for corruption. Likewise, NGOs usually do social work, and are therefore not associated with this problem either.

Which Institutions Are The Most Corrupt? International Results
51 of 107 political parties
36 of 107 police
20 of 107 judiciary
7 of 107 legislature
7 of 107 public officials
6 of 107 medical sector
4 of 107 media
3 of 107 religious bodies
3 of 107 businesses
0 of 107 military
0 of 107 NGOs
0 of 107 education system

Unsurprisingly, when it came to Iraq those questioned thought that corruption was a serious problem that affected every part of society. When asked if corruption had changed over the last two years, 5% said it decreased a lot, 11% stated that it decreased a little, 25% felt like it was the same, while 27% thought it increased a little, and 33% had it increasing a lot. The next question was what was the extent of corruption in the public sector? This was a pertinent issue as the state controls the economy and services in Iraq. 1% didn’t think it was a problem at all, 2% said not really a problem, 24% thought it was a slight problem, 29% said it was a problem, while 44% answered it was a serious problem. Next, people were asked if the government was run by a few that acted in their own interest. 1% said not at all, 12% said it was to a limited extent, 37% felt somewhat, 41% to a large extent, and 9% entirely. Given that deep level of cynicism when asked how effective the authorities were in combating corruption only 23% said they were effective, 26% said neither effective nor ineffective, but then 52% stated they were ineffective. When it came to institutions, all twelve asked about were thought to be compromised. Like the overall results across the 107 countries, Iraqis felt that politicians were the most corrupt at 47%. That was followed by 34% for the parliament, and 32% for public officials, 30% for the police, 28% for health services, 26% for the judiciary, 23% for business, 22% for the education system, 19% for the military, 15% for the media, 12% for NGOs, and 11% for religions bodies. When the topic of bribes was brought up, 39% said that they had paid a bribe to the land services office, followed by the police, 35%, registry and permits, 27%, health services, 23%, judiciary 22%, tax revenue office, 17%, utilities, 14%, and schools, 12%. Finally, more than 50% of respondents felt that they could not stop corruption. 54% said that ordinary people could not make a different against the problem, while 48% believed the opposite. The survey shows the extent to which corruption affects Iraq. Every public office was believed to be corrupt. That’s because graft and theft is the grease that makes the Iraqi government work. Many public workers expect bribes from the public if they want things to get done. People need to pay bribes to obtain positions in the police and army. The security forces kidnap people for ransom, people are held in detention facilities and family members have to pay to get them out, while judges will take money to drop cases. The schools are just the same with teachers taking money to pass students on the state exams or to give them good grades. Businesses are expected to give kickbacks to government officials in order to obtain contracts as well. The problem extends from the top down to the very bottom of society, which is why there is no effort to stop it, and why so many Iraqis feel that it won’t end anytime soon.

In the last two years how has the level of corruption changed in Iraq?
16% decreased
25% stayed the same
60% increased

What extent is corruption a problem in the public sector?
1% not at all
2% not really a problem
24% slight problem
29% a problem
44% serious problem

Is the government run by a few who act in their own interest?
1% not at all
12% limited
37% somewhat
41% large extent
9% entirely

How effective is the government in fighting corruption?
23% effective
26% neither effective nor ineffective
52% ineffective

Which institutions are most corrupt in Iraq?
47% political parties
34% parliament
32% public officials
30% police
28% health services
26% judiciary
23% business
22% education system
19% military
15% media
12% NGOs
11% religious bodies

Have you or anyone in your home paid a bribe to one of these eight services in the last year?
39% land services
35% police
27% registry and permits
23% health services
22% judiciary
17% tax revenue
14% utilities
12% education system

What extent do you agree that ordinary people can make a different in fighting corruption?
52% disagree
48% agree

Iraq remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Surveys such as this one by Transparency International show how imbedded the criminality is in the society. Every institution in Iraq from the political parties to the schools to even NGOs were considered corrupt to some extent. This goes from the top politicians down to the lowliest bureaucrat. Bribery and graft is now institutionalized, and part of the political process and running of the country. There are few chances for this situation changing until those at the top decide that the betterment of the country is more important than their own self-interest.


Transparency International, “Global Corruption Barometer 2013,” July 2013
- “Iraq: overview of corruption and anti-corruption,” April 2013

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