Posts Tagged ‘Transparency International’

Transparency International: Corruption and killing human rights defenders go hand in hand

January 25, 2022

On 25 January 2022 important Research by Jon Vrushi and Roberto Martínez B. Kukutschka of Transparency International (which just published it 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index) shows a perhaps not surprising but undoubted link between human rights and corruption. They say: Corruption enables both human rights abuses and democratic decline. In turn, these factors lead to higher levels of corruption, setting off a vicious cycle.

…While all states have a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all people, the presence of corruption can weaken a government’s ability to do so by undermining the overall functioning of the state – from the delivery of public services, to the dispensation of justice and the provision of safety for everyone.

More specifically, the duty to respect means that the state must not act in violation of human rights, for example, by using violence against peaceful demonstrators. Corruption can undermine this obligation when, for example, the government instrumentalises the police or judiciary to unfairly detain, arrest or intimidate opponents or dissidents. Corruption in law enforcement can jeopardise people’s safety and victims’ access to justice. On the one hand, corruption in law enforcement can drive human right violations such as ill-treatment or torture in the hands of officers including in detention settings or through police practices. In other cases, corruption might permeate the administration of justice including by slowing investigations into human rights violations and affecting due process.

What is more, corruption and impunity contribute to an unsafe climate for human rights defenders to operate in. Having examined the data collected by Frontline Defenders, we found that out of the 331 cases of murdered human rights defenders in 25 countries in 2020, 98 per cent of those deaths occurred in 23 countries with high levels of public sector corruption, or a CPI score below 45. Moreover, at least 20 of all cases were registered as killings of human rights defenders dealing with anti-corruption issues.

The second state obligation, to protect, means that governments should ensure that no one infringes the rights of its people. Corruption can also undermine this obligation. Organised criminal groups routinely murder journalists and human rights defenders and the state often fails to protect their safety. Similarly, private actors can rely on bribery and/or personal connections to ensure that the state turns a blind eye to human rights abuses. If the state fails to prevent a company, which has made a large campaign donation, from polluting a water source on which people depend on and puts their health at risk, the state is effectively failing in its obligation to protect.

Finally, corruption can directly undermine a government’s ability to fulfil its human rights obligations to take positive actions to guarantee the enjoyment of basic human rights. When states allow the embezzlement of public funds meant to be spent on providing healthcare or when rigged public procurement processes fail to deliver the necessary goods and services for education, states fail in their responsibility to fulfil the rights to health and education.

While all three obligations are equally important, state failure to respect human rights can lead to catastrophic consequences for democracy and the rule of law, as it can subvert fundamental rights which are critical for government accountability, such as freedom of expression, assembly and association. This, in turn, makes it harder to keep corruption in check and can lead to a vicious cycle of corruption, human rights abuses, and democratic decline.

The graph below shows how corruption and abuse of civil liberties go hand-in-hand. The civil liberties score, a dimension of the Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit, contains indicators on freedom of expression, association, assembly, personal safety and access to justice, among others. What we observe is that there is a strong and positive correlation between good governance and the respect of human rights and that very few countries have managed to establish effective control of corruption without also respecting human rights. This relationship holds even when controlling for the level of development (see Annex).

Corruption and breaches of civil liberties

Corruption, civil liberties and rule of law

Keeping corruption out of the public eye is essential to ensure that those who participate in it face no consequences. Restricting freedoms of expression, association and assembly is thus a popular tactic to weaken societal checks on corruption, reducing the chances of being denounced for engaging in corruption and facing consequences. Simultaneously, this helps to perpetuate corrupt networks and practices. To ensure they face no legal consequences, in some cases corrupt officials also capture the judiciary and independent oversight institutions. To prevent loss of their privileges, corrupt and their cronies often resort to oppressive measures, curtailing civil liberties.

Take Nicaragua, for example, where President Daniel Ortega has ruled since 2007 and the country has experienced democratic decline, along with restrictions to fundamental freedoms and rampant corruption. Nicaragua is one of the significant decliners on the 2021 CPI, having dropped from a score of 29 in 2012 to 20 in 2021.

Nicaragua now ranks in the bottom 20 countries on the Index. At the same time, Nicaragua’s scores on V-Dem’s “Freedom of Expression”, “Freedom of Association” and “Access to Justice” indicators have dropped to record low levels. Corruption in the justice system and total capture of the courts by the executive means that human rights abuses go unchecked, providing no access to justice or remedy for victims in the country. At the same time, politically motivated corruption charges against opposition figures.

further impinge on political rights and liberties while government officials face virtually no accountability for acts of corruption. This climate of total impunity allows the government to further restrict fundamental rights, like freedom of expression, association and assembly. In some cases, they become direct attacks.

In 2019, one of the oldest newspapers in Nicaragua, El Nuevo Diario, reported that it was forced to close after authorities prevented it from obtaining newsprint and ink. Furthermore, between March and July 2020, Nicaragua’s Observatory of Aggressions on the Independent Press reported 351 attacks including unjust prosecutions, arbitrary detentions and harassment of media workers and their families. Human rights abuses continue, including bans on protests, attacks on freedom of expression, and the stigmatisation and persecution of journalists and human rights defenders.

Attacks on checks and balances as well as on civil liberties do not only occur in countries with systemic corruption and weak democratic institutions, but also in consolidated democracies. Hungary serves as a cautionary tale where following corruption and full capture of the state, the country has fallen to the lowest score in the Freedom in the World Index since the end of the communist regime in 1989. The abuse of media, civic space and the judiciary by democratic governments alleged to be involved in corruption has also been prevalent in Czechia, Slovenia and Brazil, among others.

What is more, not everyone is equally able to challenge corruption. Repressive officials or those seeking to silence anti-corruption campaigners are less likely to fear being held to account when they target individuals from marginalised groups. People from discriminated groups are therefore more exposed to potential backlashes and human rights abuses when they try to make their voices heard. The enhanced level of danger also applies to anti-corruption campaigners who champion the cause of discriminated groups, such as Transparency International’s chapter in Guatemala, which seeks to uncover and challenge acts of collusive corruption between state officials and mining companies that harm Indigenous Peoples.

Transnational corruption as enabler of human rights abuses

Various actors in the top-scoring countries are all too eager to help authoritarian and kleptocratic regimes clean their reputations – not just their money.

The case of Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom shows this corrupt backscratching at work. The heavy-handed response to protests in the country in early January made international headlines, echoing events of the Zhanaozen massacre from 10 years ago. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s president at that time turned to the UK’s former prime minister Tony Blair to help him with his image. In a leaked letter Blair reportedly advised and provided Nazarbayev with talking points on how to handle critical questions about Zhanaozen. Months later, the government jailed an opposition leader for allegedly orchestrating the events. Blair continued to defend Kazakhstan’s regime on various occasions.

More international coordination is needed to ensure that foreign dictators and western enablers do not circumvent anti-money laundering and sanctions regimes.

Transnational corruption enables human rights abuses and exacerbates repression by allowing autocrats to:

  1. Enjoy looted funds and reward cronies. Without the help of professional enablers like complicit bankers, lawyers, accountants, real-estate brokers etc, kleptocrats would not be able to enjoy their funds and pay off those who support them. In turn this means that they can stay in power by buying support and dispensing patronage to cronies.
  2. Launder their reputation abroad. By employing western public relations firms, lobby professionals and even funding universities kleptocrats and autocrats ensure that little pressure will come to bear from the international community on their human rights abuses record.
  3. Evade accountability. By hiding their financial transactions, autocrats make it almost impossible for law enforcement or judicial bodies, at home or abroad, to find traces of their malfeasance, ensuring they stay in power and unscathed. They can also bypass sanctions regimes, such as those aimed directly at human rights abusers through the Global Magnitsky Act or similar legislation.

In 2017, the Azerbaijani Laundromat investigations found how a network of slush funds financed Azerbaijan’s bribe-induced foreign policy and reputation. Three Spanish delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) are suspected of benefiting from the Laundromat. In return, they allegedly watered down the human rights body’s criticism of events in Azerbaijan under the country’s repressive authoritarian regime. In 2021, authorities in Germany expanded their previous investigations into the Azerbaijani Laundromat. Another (now former) German parliamentarian is under investigation for similar reasons. Transnational corruption schemes allowed the Azerbaijani government to conduct a type of caviar diplomacy, bribing abroad and shoring up support from cronies at home.

Effects on democracy and corruption

Civil and political rights including freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, as well as access to justice are integral to healthy democracies. They guarantee the participation of citizens and groups in democratic and policy processes and can help keep corruption in check. The current wave of autocratisation is not primarily driven by coups and violence, but rather by efforts to undermine democracy gradually. The descent into authoritarianism usually begins with violations to people’s civil and political rights, attacks on civil and political rights, efforts to undermine the autonomy of oversight undermining election management bodies, and trying to control or directly attack the media to help disseminate the regime’s ideology while supressing criticism.

The case of Belarus, which this year fell 6 points in the CPI score this year, perfectly illustrates the limits of this top-down model and how the apparent successes in controlling corruption can quickly prove illusory where they are subject to the whims of a dictator or a regime that does not allow criticism, opposition or political competition. The country also serves as a cautionary tale for similar regimes.

While examples of successful top-down anti-corruption reforms exist in countries like China, Cuba and Singapore. These efforts are few and far apart. Furthermore, some of the most successful anti-corruption reforms that started with top-down interventions, eventually had to incorporate more bottom-up approaches to ensure their sustainability. Hence, sustainable anti-corruption strategies go hand in hand with the protection of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.

For these reasons, in its Strategy 2030, Transparency International recognises that corruption cannot be countered without fundamental human freedoms to organise, associate, access information and speak up as well as a free and independent media.

To end the vicious cycle of corruption, human rights violations and democratic decline, people should demand that their governments:

  1. Uphold the rights needed to hold power to account. Governments should roll back any disproportionate restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly introduced since the onset of the pandemic. Ensuring justice for crimes against human rights defenders must also be an urgent priority.
  2. Restore and strengthen institutional checks on power. Public oversight bodies such as anti-corruption agencies and supreme audit institutions need to be independent, well- resourced and empowered to detect and sanction wrongdoing. Parliaments and the courts should also be vigilant in preventing executive overreach.
  3. Combat transnational forms of corruption. Governments in advanced economies need to fix the systemic weaknesses that allow cross-border corruption to go undetected or unsanctioned. They must close legal loopholes, regulate professional enablers of financial crime, and ensure that the corrupt and their accomplices cannot escape justice.
  4. Uphold the right to information in government spending. As part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts, governments must make good on their pledge contained in the June 2021 UNGASS political declaration to include anti-corruption safeguards in public procurement. Maximum transparency in public spending protects lives and livelihoods.

The Berlin-based nongovernmental organisation surveys business leaders and experts to assign scores to 180 countries and territories on their perceived levels of public sector corruption. Using a scale from 0 to 100 (with 100 being very clean and 0 ranking as highly corrupt), the 10th annual report found that two-thirds of countries scored below 50. The average score was 43 out of 100. Overall, the fight against corruption is having mixed results – with some nations making gains and others falling behind. “Since 2012, 25 countries significantly improved their scores, but in the same period 23 countries significantly declined,” the report said.

It also found that despite increased momentum to end the abuse of anonymous shell companies, many high-scoring countries with relatively clean public sectors continue to enable corruption. A shell company does not have a physical location, employees, products or revenue. It is used to store money, help facilitate tax avoidance and, in some cases, deal in illegal activity such as money laundering. Some high-ranking countries such as Switzerland have been called tax havens in part due to their tolerance of shell companies.

Saudi Arabia finds that celebrities are easier to buy than human rights NGOs

January 13, 2020
On 13 January 2020 Amnesty International has released a joint statement, along with Transparency International and Civicus, [] explaining why it will not be engaging in this year’s C20 process, a cycle of preparatory meetings leading up to the annual G20 summit, which  started yesterday with a three-day “kick-off meeting”.

“The C20 is supposed to provide a platform for civil society voices from around the world to influence the G20 agenda. Since Saudi Arabia has locked up most of its own independent activists, the only domestic organizations present will be aligned with the government – which makes a mockery of the whole process,” said Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International. “The C20 in Riyadh is a sham. We cannot participate in a process which is being abused by a state which censors all free speech, criminalizes activism for women’s and minority rights, as well as homosexuality, and tortures and executes critics.”

Saudi Arabia took over the G20 presidency in December 2019. It has recently invested in expensive PR campaigns to improve its image, and hosted several high-profile sporting events which draw international visitors [see e.g.:]. But behind this carefully cultivated façade, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is as appalling as ever. Saudi Arabia is responsible for the extrajudicial execution of the journalist and peaceful critic Jamal Khashoggi. More than a year after his murder in October 2018, there has been no justice or accountability for his death. [see also:]

The country’s leading women’s rights activists remain behind bars and on trial for their promotion of women’s rights in the country. Scores of other individuals, including human rights defenders, have been serving lengthy prison terms for their peaceful activism or have been arbitrarily detained for up to a year and a half without charges. The Saudi Arabian authorities have also carried out executions following unfair trials and routine torture and other ill-treatment in custody.

The Saudi-led C20 process has already failed to guarantee the C20’s fundamental principles. The appointment of the Chairs of working groups and various committees was opaque and non-consultative, while arbitrary decisions have excluded experienced international groups. The C20 process is led by the King Khalid Foundation, which is connected to the Saudi Royal Family, and cannot be considered as transparent, inclusive and participatory. Since the Saudi authorities ban political parties, trade unions and independent human rights groups, there is no way the C20 meetings can be the free and open discussions they are designed to be.

The full statement is available here

Civil Society condemns charging of Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia

May 4, 2016

On 2 May 2016, a broad range of 59 human rights and civil society organizations condemned the politically-motivated charging of six human rights defenders from a Cambodian human rights group, the country’s National Election Committee (NEC) and the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR). The targeting of these individuals, five of whom were sent to pre-trial detention today, is the latest escalation in a far-reaching government assault on civil society ahead of upcoming local and national elections, and is a clear reprisal for support provided by rights workers in a politically-sensitive case.

Four senior staff of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) – Ny SokhaNay VandaYi Soksan and Lim Mony – were today charged with bribery of a witness under Criminal Code Article 548 and sent to CC1 and CC2 prisons in Phnom Penh. In addition, former ADHOC staffer Ny Chakrya, recently appointed deputy secretary-general of the NEC, and UNOHCHR staffer Soen Sally were charged as accomplices to bribery of a witness (Criminal Code Articles 29 & 548). Ny Chakrya was sent to Police Judiciare (PJ) prison. If convicted, all six could be sentenced to between five and ten years’ imprisonment.

The six human rights defenders were summoned by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) for questioning last week and all but the UNOHCHR staffer subject to at least four days of interrogation – firstly by the ACU and then by the prosecutor – in relation to a complaint signed by Khom Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom. The complaint was lodged following her questioning by anti-terrorism police and a prosecutor about an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Khem Sokha, after ADHOC responded to Srey Mom’s request for legal and material assistance. In the context of such support, ADHOC provided Srey Mom with $204 to cover food and transport costs, including to attend questioning by judicial authorities. This legitimate expenditure of a small sum of money to cover basic expenses of a client is now grotesquely being portrayed by the ACU as bribery and corruption.

The targeting of UNOHCHR staffer Soen Sally by the ACU and the court has disregarded his diplomatic immunity as an employee of the United Nations. The ACU, and later the Prime Minister himself, both argued that Soen Sally does not enjoy such protection.

The case is a farcical use of both the criminal justice system and state institutions as tools to intimidate, criminalise and punish the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and civil society. The ACU was created to tackle the endemic corruption prevalent in Cambodia, not to operate as a vehicle for government repression of civil society. The involvement of Ministry of Interior Central Security officers alongside ACU personnel dealing with the case clearly demonstrates the securitization of civil society activities.

Under international human rights law, including treaties that Cambodia has ratified, Cambodia is legally bound to respect and protect the human rights of all people under its jurisdiction, including the rights to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“The charges brought against the six human rights defenders are blatantly politically-motivated and a direct attack against those serving people who fall prey to Cambodia’s government,” said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO director. “These mounting attacks represent an alarming tightening of the noose around civil society and those who work to uphold human rights, and clearly show that the government’s ultimate aim is total control ahead of the upcoming elections.”

Civil society reiterates its strong condemnation of the charges, demands the release on bail of the five and reaffirms the rights and fundamental freedoms of peaceful human rights defenders to conduct their activities free from threats and punishment. We further call for the judicial investigation to be conducted impartially and call for an end to executive interference in the judiciary.

This statement is endorsed by:

  1. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) 
  2. Boeung Kak Community 
  3. Boeung Trabek Community 
  4. Borei Keila Community 
  5. Beung Pram Land Community
  6. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union (BWTUC) 
  7. Building Community Voice (BCV) 
  8. CamASEAN Youth
  9. Cambodia Development People Life Association 
  10. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) 
  11. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) 
  12. Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)
  13. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) 
  14. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
  15. Cambodian Independent Civil-Servants Association (CICA) 
  16. Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) 
  17. Cambodian Informal Economic Workers Association (CIWA)
  18. Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC)
  19. Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) 
  20. Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  21. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF) 
  22. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) 
  23. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) 
  24. Christians for Social Justice
  25. Coalition for Integrity & Social Accountability (CISA) 
  26. Coalition of Cambodian farmer Community (CCFC) 
  27. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
  28. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
  29. Equitable Cambodia
  30. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  31. Former Boeung Kak Women Network Community 
  32. Forum Asia
  33. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) 
  34. Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) 
  35. Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economic (IDEA) 
  36. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
  37. Indigenous Youth at Brome Commune, Preah Vihear Province 
  38. Indradevi Association (IDA) 
  39. Land Community, I Village Preah Sihanouk Province 
  40. Land Community, Prek Chik Village, Koh Kong Province 
  41. LICADHO Canada
  42. Lor Peang community, Kampong Chhnang Province 
  43. Mother Nature 
  44. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  45. Phnom Bat Community 
  46. Phum 23 Community
  47. Ponlok Khmer 
  48. Prek Takung Community
  49. Prek Tanou Community 
  50. Samakum Teang Tnaut (STT) 
  51. SOS International AirPort Community 
  52. Strey Khmer
  53. Thmor Kol Community (TK)
  54. Toul Sangke B Community 
  55. Tumnop II Community
  56. Urban Poor Women Development
  57. Wat Than Monk Network
  58. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  59. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

On 28 April 2016, 27 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had already signed a joint statement calling on the authorities to cease harassment of human rights defenders []

For earlier posts on Cambodia:


Cambodia: Civil Society Condemns Charging of Human Rights Defenders / May 2, 2016 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT


Human Rights Defenders and Anti-Corruption campaigners should join hands

January 29, 2015
Jamil Nasir, a graduate of Columbia University, wrote on 10 December 2014 a short piece on the link between human rights and corruption: “The corruption link”. The author concludes that “Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists.” The article follows below in full:
The world celebrates ‘Anti-corruption Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’ on December 9 and 10, respectively. Corruption and human rights are inextricably linked, but these linkages are not emphasised much in literature or discourse on corruption. The detrimental impact of corruption on economic growth and development is now well documented. It is a fact that corruption kills the incentive system, distorts technology choices, misallocates talent, promotes tax evasion and retards economic growth.And how does corruption impact human rights? First, it reduces the capacity of the state to protect, respect, and enforce its obligations with regard to the fundamental human rights enshrined in the social contract between the citizens and the state. For example, ‘access to justice’ and ‘security of life, property and honour’ are fundamental human rights. Can these rights be protected with a corruption-ridden judicial and police system? Our own current system is a pertinent example.Corruption in the judiciary and the police is not a secret in our country. When we talk of corruption in the judicial system, it does not mean prismatic decisions and judgements only. Granting adjournments to benefit one of the parties to a dispute is also corruption. When it comes to the police, corruption is not about flawed investigations but also non-submission of challans in the court on time. Consequently, the weaker party gets so disillusioned that it either does not pursue the case or enters into forced compromise.

Thus corruption affects fundamental rights as well as procedural rights like due process – the. right not to have undue delay in court proceedings and the right to a fair trial. Is it not corruption that has reduced the capacity of our state to enforce fundamental human rights? Have the court and police systems not become dysfunctional? Are these institutions not making the people poor rather than providing them quick justice?

This corruption lowers economic development and undermines poverty alleviation. The social contract obligates that the state should provide an environment where people can realise their full potential. Is such an environment possible without adequate resources with the state? Corruption reduces the level of revenues which consequently reduce the capacity of the state to fund basic social services. Again, Pakistan is a pertinent case. Due to corruption, tax evasion is rampant. Corruption also affects targeting of social programmes. If corrupt practices are pervasive, leakages in such programmes will usually be high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the money allocated for various social spending and poverty alleviation programmes have not reached the intended targets. A substantial percentage of such funding was squandered away during the process of distribution. Further, targeting of the poor was riddled with nepotism and patronage.

Moreover, corruption enhances the operating costs of the government and reduces the resources available for social spending. The budget for the health and education sectors gets squeezed. It is an open secret now that the major chunk of the funds allocated for development of infrastructure like roads, schools and hospital buildings is eaten into by corruption in the form of commissions and kickbacks by the engineers, contractors and construction companies. And so corruption undermines development, deepens poverty and exacerbates other human rights violations.

Corruption can also violate human rights directly. If a corrupt judge takes a bribe to decide a case against an individual or a corrupt police officer takes a bribe not to properly investigate, that corruption directly violates human rights like the right to a fair trial. Corruption can manifest itself as the worst abuse of human dignity and rights.

One of the reports of Transparency International mentions a local public hospital in Zimbabwe whose nurses charged $5 every time the mother screamed while giving birth to a baby. This amount was charged as a penalty for raising alarm. Those women who were unable to pay the delivery fee were detained at the hospital until they had settled the debt. In this way, they were held hostage by the corruption prevalent in the hospital.

Corruption particularly targets the poor. For example, if a rickshaw driver or a street vendor pays a meagre amount of bribe (assume Rs100) to a policeman to avoid harassment, the impact on these poor chaps will be deep and severe since even Rs100 constitutes a major chunk of their daily income. It is not a big amount in absolute terms but it eats into their already tight budget. Compared with the daily income of the wage earners, the impact of this seemingly little amount can be well imagined on the household budget of the poor.

On the other hand, if a businessman pays – assume Rs100,000 – to a tax collector, he will get enormous personal benefit. But due to this collusion of the tax evader and the tax collector, millions of rupees will be dribbled through corruption. The taxes evaded due to this under the table deal, if properly collected, could be utilised for developing infrastructure, transfer payments or spent on poverty alleviation programmes.

This simple illustration shows that corruption adversely affects the poor. Second, it may also benefit the rich which is perhaps one explanation of the tolerance of the rich and the elite towards corruption in society. According to Professor Pranab Bardhan, corruption feeds on itself due to a variety of reasons. First, it is beneficial for the payer and the payee. Second, it is so entrenched that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Third, once corruption takes root in society, it is exceedingly difficult to eliminate.

It is time the discourse on corruption included the human rights perspective. A clear understanding between corruption and human rights can empower both human rights activists and those working against corruption. If linkages between corruption and rights become part of the narrative on corruption, attitudes will change. When people become more aware of the damage corruption causes to their fundamental rights, they are more likely to support campaigns against corruption. This new discourse can persuade key actors like judges, parliamentarians, lawyers, media and the public at large to take a strong stand against corruption. Connecting corruption to human rights violations means that acts of corruption can be challenged in a court of law as violation of fundamental human rights.

Weak human rights protection creates possibilities for corruption which also means that the promotion of human rights can be one of the tools against corruption. For example, promotion of the right to freedom of expression and information can go a long way in combating corruption in society. The right to information is critical in the fight against corruption.

Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists. This will be possible once the dots are connected and linkages between corruption and human rights are consciously explored for a joint struggle. Both human rights organisations and anti-corruption agencies should make a resolve to work together. The fight against corruption and the promotion of human rights are too important to be left to disjointed endeavours.”

The corruption link – Jamil Nasir.