Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 offers a warning that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world. More than two thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Denmark and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia this year make up the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.
“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.“The top performers clearly reveal how transparency supports accountability and can stop corruption.”
The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions, while a lack of accountability across the public sector coupled with ineffective public institutions hurts these perceptions.
Fair Trials International has published a major report (Strengthening Respect for Human Rights, Strengthening INTERPOL) showing how countries across the world are abusing INTERPOL to persecute refugees, journalists and peaceful political activists
Despite INTERPOL’s commitment to neutrality and human rights, the report shows how INTERPOL’s review mechanisms are not vigorous enough to prevent this abuse, with severe implications for the people concerned: damage to reputation, loss of work, inability to travel and even arrest and extradition.
Featuring the stories of individuals who have been arrested at gunpoint or detained in high-security prisons, including within the EU, our report shows how politically-motivated wanted person alerts are being disseminated to police forces in over 190 countries.
We are calling for simple reforms to INTERPOL to ensure that its essential crime-fighting systems are not open to this abuse and that trust in its work is not weakened. The report contains a number of recommendations designed to help INTERPOL prevent such cases in the future and give the people subject to these abuses the chance to challenge them with fairness and due process.
Major international divisions over the global “war on drugs” have been revealed in a leaked draft of a UN document setting out the organisation’s long-term strategy for combating illicit narcotics.
The draft, written in September and seen by the Observer, shows there are serious and entrenched divisions over the longstanding US-led policy promoting prohibition as an exclusive solution to the problem.
Instead, a number of countries are pushing for the “war on drugs” to be seen in a different light, which places greater emphasis on treating drug consumption as a public health problem, rather than a criminal justice matter.
It is rare for such a document to leak. Normally only the final agreed version is published once all differences between UN member states have been removed.
The divisions highlighted in the draft are potentially important. The document will form the basis of a joint “high-level” statement on drugs to be published in the spring, setting out the UN’s thinking. This will then pave the way for a general assembly review, an event that occurs every 10 years, and, in 2016, will confirm the UN’s position for the next decade.
“The idea that there is a global consensus on drugs policy is fake,” said Damon Barrett, deputy director of the charity Harm Reduction International. “The differences have been there for a long time, but you rarely get to see them. It all gets whittled down to the lowest common denominator, when all you see is agreement. But it’s interesting to see now what they are arguing about.”
The current review, taking place in Vienna at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, comes after South American countries threw down the gauntlet to the US at this year’s Organisation of American States summit meeting, when they argued that alternatives to prohibition must be considered.
Countries such as Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico have become increasingly critical of the UN’s prohibition stance, claiming that maintaining the status quo plays into the hands of the cartels and paramilitary groups.
The draft reveals that Ecuador is pushing the UN to include a statement that recognises that the world needs to look beyond prohibition. Its submission claims there is “a need for more effective results in addressing the world drug problem” that will encourage “deliberations on different approaches that could be more efficient and effective”.
Venezuela is pushing for the draft to include a new understanding of “the economic implications of the current dominating health and law enforcement approach in tackling the world drug problem”, arguing that the current policy fails to recognise the “dynamics of the drug criminal market”.
Experts said the level of disagreement showed fault lines were opening up in the globally agreed position on drug control. “Heavy reliance on law enforcement for controlling drugs is yielding a poor return on investment and leading to all kinds of terrible human rights abuses,” said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program. “The withdrawal from the most repressive parts of the drug war has begun – locally, nationally and globally.”
Attacking the status quo is not confined to South American countries, however. Norway wants the draft to pose “questions related to decriminalisation and a critical assessment of the approach represented by the so-called war on drugs”. Switzerland wants the draft to recognise the consequences of the current policy on public health issues. It wants it to include the observation that member states “note with concern that consumption prevalence has not been reduced significantly and that the consumption of new psychoactive substances has increased in most regions of the world”. It also wants the draft to “express concern that according to UNAids, the UN programme on HIV/Aids, the global goal of reducing HIV infections among people who inject drugs by 50% by 2015 will not be reached, and that drug-related transmission is driving the expansion of the epidemic in many countries”.
The EU is also pushing hard for the draft to emphasise the need for drug-dependence treatment and care options for offenders as an alternative to incarceration.
“Drug users should be entitled to access to treatment, essential medicines, care and related support services,” the EU’s submission suggests. “Programmes related to recovery and social reintegration should also be encouraged.”
Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said the draft revealed there was growing tension over the global drugs policy. “We are starting to see member states break with the consensus about how we should control drugs in the world. Punishment hasn’t worked. All the money spent on crop eradication hasn’t had the impact we would like to see.”