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Oksana Drebezova: Civil society is the driving force in fight against corruption

01.02.2016  |  Politics   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Oksana Drebezova: Civil society is the driving force in fight against corruption

It is the points and “neighbours” that are vital in the Corruption Perceptions Index; not ranks.

The International Non-governmental organization Transparency International presented the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015.

In 2015 Belarus gained 32 points, thus getting the 107th place, together with Argentina, Togo, Ecuador, and Cote d’Ivoire. It should be noted that in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 Belarus gained 31 point from 100 possible, in 2013 – 29 points, in 2014 – 31 point.

Belarus came 11th of the 19 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, outscoring Moldova (10th place) and Armenia (8th place).

What does the Corruption Perceptions Index look like? How is corruption measured in the world and in Belarus in particular?

Oksana Drebezova, the head of the Transparency International expert group, answered the questions of the “EuroBelarus” Information Service.

- Belarus got the 107th place together with Argentina, Togo, Ecuador, and Cote d’Ivoire in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. How high (low) is the level of corruption? What data is this indicator based on?

- The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) assesses the corruption perceptions level in the state sector; i.e. the political and administrative corruption. CPI is based on statistics and information from the different expert sources provided by the international organizations.

When composing the Corruption Perceptions Index the experts are responsible for the final result. In 2015 when comprising the Index 12 checked sources were used, among which are the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and others. However, Transparency International doesn’t give any assessments, but gathers the most authoritative opinions about the level of corruption expressed in points. After that the points are averaged and ranged from 0 till 100, where the countries with the highest corruption level get the most points.

When analyzing the data the fact that the number of countries presented in the Index changes from year to year is also taken into account, cause in order to include the country in the Index at least three reliable expert research that would assess the corruption perceptions level in this country are needed.

According to the Index, Denmark that came 1st with 91 point out of 100 possible is the least corrupted country in the world.

The fight against corruption is an uninterrupted process. Some people find the results of this fight visible; others find them insufficient. Both parties are correct. Thus, 32 points might be a considerable achievement for one country and is only a gleam of hope for the other.

In reality, the Transparency International report doesn’t tell about the corruption level; it tells about its perceptions in a specific country. The Transparency International experts have concluded that the only way to assess corruption is its perception.

We should remember that corruption isn’t always related to illegal ways to gain money or with bribery. Corruption takes place when three components appear: absence of due control, presence of power, and people’s personal qualities.

- In 2015 Belarus gained 32 points out 100 possible, with 31 point accordingly in 2014. Does it mean that the corruption level is dropping in our country?

- One of the main mistakes is to think that the cases of corruption have become considerably less (more) if the state gains or loses several positions. The reason for change can be, for example, the increase in the number of included countries. It is the points and “neighbors” that are vital in the Corruption Perceptions Index, not ranks.

Besides, we need to understand what part of index does the specific country belong to. If it hasn’t been moving up higher than the last one-third of the index over several years, there’s no sense to talk about the successes of the anticorruption policy, even if the position has nominally strengthened.

- The important step in fight against corruption is the adoption of the law “On fight against corruption”. What are its advantages?

- The adoption of the law “On fight against corruption” in 2015 was an important step that the civil society has been part of through public discussion.

The law defines the procedure of civil society’s participation in fight against corruption, also by means of public control in the sphere of fight against corruption. Public control can be performed both by citizens and by CSOs.

The law establishes the procedure for the annual declaration of income and property of public officials that occupy positions of responsibility, and persons admitted to the civil service through the election, their spouse, minor children, including adopted children, as well as adult close relatives residing jointly with them and having a common economy.

Unconditional compliance with the provisions of the law will increase transparency and accountability of state officials and promote the decrease of corruption level.

We will be able to evaluate the law’s efficiency and its application by results of 2016.

- In Belarus, we need to separate the notions of law and law enforcement. Does the Index take into account national peculiarities of Belarusan law application?

- The world anticorruption practice demonstrates that it cannot exist without some national “features of law enforcement”.

The formation of law enforcement depends on the stance of every individual citizen and the civil society on the whole, not only on state bodies.

Until everyone understands the consequences of corruption from their own experience we won’t be able to fight it efficiently and thus, won’t be able to reach the first ten countries of the Index. It is the citizens and the civil society that are the driving force in fight against corruption.

The adopted law gives citizens powers in this sphere.

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