David Cameron claims Nigeria and Afghanistan are “possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world” – but is he right?
The Prime Minister has been caught on microphone describing the oil-rich nation along with Afghanistan as “possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world”.
But Transparency International’s research does not seem to agree.
The respected Berlin-based global graft watchdog annually ranks countries according to perceived corruption within the public sector.
Its most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, for 2015, found the 10 most corrupt countries were:
- North Korea and Somalia (tied)
4. Angola and South Sudan (tied)
5. Iraq and Libya (tied)
6. Haiti, Guinea-Bissau and Venezuela (tied)
7. Eritrea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Yemen (tied)
9. Burundi, Cambodia and Zimbabwe (tied)
10. Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar (tied)
Nigeria ranks just outside the top 30 most corrupt countries, according to the index.
Maggie Murphy, senior global advocacy manager at Transparency International, said both Nigeria and Afghanistan suffer from “rampant corruption” and “are certainly in the wrong half of the index”.
But she added: “Nigeria is perceived as less corrupt because it has more of the institutions to fight corruption in place and some of them are even working.
“Afghanistan is obviously much worse because it is still suffering from post-conflict problems, and it has very weak institutions … much of the transactions are done in cash and there are limited controls.”
She said countries suffer from corruption when they lack strong institutions, like an independent judiciary and independent police.
In order to fight corruption, nations must “build up a zero-tolerance for corruption, strengthen rule of law and offer no impunity to corruption, no matter who is accused”, she said.
“If people see that people at the top can get away with corruption then that will only filter down. The corrupt must be held to account,” Ms Murphy said.
She said both Afghanistan and Nigeria needed to be doing more.
“Both have made commitments to fighting corruption, however, it has been more talk than action,” she added.
David Cameron’s comments about Nigeria and Afghanistan, while speaking to the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, were made ahead of an anti-corruption summit in London later this week.
Ms Murphy said the UK played a part in corruption around the world.
“The UK contributes in the fact that it is a safe haven for corrupt individuals and their assets, facilitated by weaknesses in the UK anti-money laundering system and company secrecy provided by the overseas territories like British Virgin Islands,” she said.
Robert Palmer, of campaign group Global Witness, also criticised the UK’s part in global corruption problems in light of Mr Cameron’s remarks.
“Nigeria and Afghanistan are both deeply corrupt countries, but their leaders have shown signs that they want to clean up their act,” he said.
“They are not helped by the secrecy sold by UK tax havens or the army of lawyers and bankers from places like London willing to handle stolen money or look the other way – we must get our own house in order too.”