Transparency International recently published its 10th annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which contains polls and statistics concerning bribery and corruption rates in various countries in the MENA region. Lebanon, followed by Jordan and Palestine, ranked first in the results of the index.
The detailed statistics for the index tackle the period between March 2018 and October 2019. From 6 Arab countries, 6600 individuals participated in the polls, which included questions related to corruption and bribery, covering topics such as electoral fraud, sexual blackmail, and nepotism.
Lebanon ranked first in electoral fraud rates, with 47% of the Lebanese participants reported having their votes sold during the country’s latest elections. Moreover, 28% reported receiving threats from certain parties involved in the elections, in order to influence and steal their votes.
In contrast, only 3-4% of Jordanian and Palestinean participants reported being blackmailed for their votes during the elections in their respective countries.
Almost half of the Lebanese involved in the study (41%) said that they have bribed government employees in exchange for the essential public and governmental services in the past 12 months. In that section of the study, Lebanon ranked first, again.
The statistics showed that the police were the most bribed branch in the public sector of Lebanon, also surpassing other countries, with 36% of the Lebanese participants reporting having had to bribe the police in return for their services.
Lebanon also came in first in terms of nepotism. 54% of the Lebanese participants said they had to use their relationships with people working for the government and/or public sector to facilitate the processes involved in basic services, such as electricity and water.
The CPI showed that sex discrimination when receiving bribes (women had to pay a larger bribe than men for the same service) and sexual blackmail were the highest in the Lebanese public sector.
Surprisingly, 1 in 5 (23%) of the Lebanese participants reported either having experienced first-hand sexual blackmail as an alternate form of bribery by public-sector employees or knowing someone who has.
A section of the index in which Lebanon did not rank first, but second after Palestine, is that of the freedom to express political views. That is not to say that the numbers were low in Lebanon though; 44% said that they felt that they lacked the freedom to openly discuss their political views in Lebanon.
Additionally, more than half of the Lebanese participants who have engaged in public services during the past 12 months (68%) believe that corruption has soared in Lebanon during that period. Similarly, 87% expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s performance in fighting corruption.
Not only that, but 58% believed that they would achieve no fruitful results if they reported corruption cases in the government; only 38% think that reporting corruption can have any positive effects or beneficial outcomes.
Coincidentally, around a month after Transparency International’s survey concluded, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens took to the streets in different areas in Lebanon calling for the reformation of the entire political system of their country, aiming to put an end to the ever-increasing corruption that has been rampant in the state for more than 30 years straight.
Surely, then, the percentage of the people who believe they have the power to end corruption has soared in the timespan of a single month; perhaps even much less than that.
The Lebanese people have taken matters into their own hands after living – for decades – in the shade of the single most corrupt government in the entire MENA region.
The effect the Lebanese revolution has had on the political class so far is proving that the people can, and indeed do, play a pivotal role in supervising and holding accountable their representatives.
Hopefully, the next CPI will have more positive statistics; less corruption and illegal activities in government facilities, and more trust in the authority from the people.
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization founded in Berlin, Germany, in 1993. Its nonprofit purpose is to combat global corruption with civil societal anti-corruption measures and to prevent criminal activities arising from corruption.