December 9, 2005

Corruption on increase worldwide, survey shows

By Andrew Gray

LONDON (Reuters) - Corruption is on the increase in most
countries and poor people are often the hardest hit, according
to a global survey released on Friday.

The poll, published on United Nations Anti-Corruption Day,
found a majority of people in 48 out of 69 countries surveyed
thought the problem had got worse over the past three years.

"Today's survey shows that people believe corruption is
deeply embedded in their countries," said Huguette Labelle,
chairwoman of anti-graft group Transparency International,
which commissioned the Global Corruption Barometer research.

"When a poor young mother believes that her government
places its own interests above her child's, or that securing
services like that child's basic health requires a hand under
the table, her hope for the future is dampened."

Overall, people rated political parties as the most corrupt
institutions. But customs officials were seen as the most
corrupt in many Central and Eastern European states while the
police and legal systems often came top of the poll in Africa.

The survey also showed paying bribes was not confined to
specific regions but was particularly prevalent in Central and
Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America.

More than 30 percent of households in Cameroon, Paraguay,
Cambodia and Mexico had paid a bribe in the past year.

Between 11 and 30 percent of households had done the same
in a further 22 countries, many of them developing nations but
also including European states such as Greece and the Czech

People in Africa -- the poorest continent -- appeared to
pay the highest proportion of their income in bribes, the
campaigning group said.

Top of that list were Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, where
households paid more than 20 percent of national per capita
income in bribes.

Transparency International, a non-governmental group based
in Berlin with branches in more than 90 countries, said leaders
could combat corruption if they made a determined effort.

A U.N. Convention against Corruption, signed by 137
nations, enters into force on December 14 and the group said
systems must be put in place to ensure governments stick to
their commitments.

"Signing the document and taking part in the photo
opportunity is not enough," said chief executive David

Nearly 55,000 people in 69 countries were surveyed for the
Corruption Barometer as part of a Gallup poll conducted between
May and October 2005, the group said. It said the survey would
be posted on its web site,