Barbados is considered the least corrupt country in the Caribbean, retaining its 29th position out of 180 jurisdictions in the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
Apart from maintaining its ranking, the island’s score improved slightly, from 64 to 65 out of 100, in the 2021 report which was released on Tuesday.
Barbados is ranked ahead of the Bahamas, which has a ranking of 30th with a score of 64; St Vincent and the Grenadines which is ranked at 36th with a score of 59; St Lucia (42nd) with a score of 56; Dominica (45th) with a score of 55; Grenada at 52nd with a score of 53; Cuba (64th) with a score of 46; and Jamaica (70th) with a score of 44.
Among Caribbean countries, Haiti is considered the most corrupt, with a ranking of 164th, while Suriname and Guyana are ranked at 87th, with scores of 39 each. Trinidad and Tobago is ranked at 82nd with a score of 41.
The index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, measured on a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 being highly corrupt and 100 being “very clean”.
The report indicated that in the Americas, increasing restrictions on accountability measures and basic civil freedoms allow corruption to go unchecked, and even historically high-performing countries were showing signs of decline.
The Americas had an average score of 43, behind Asia Pacific with a score of 45, and Western Europe and the European Union with an average score of 66. The African regions and Eastern Europe and Central Asia each had average scores in the 30s.
“With no progress on an average score of 43 out of 100 for the third consecutive year, even high performers in the Americas are showing signs of trouble. While the worst scores in the region belong to non-democratic countries, many of which are facing humanitarian crises, major consolidated democracies have also remained stagnant or fallen down the CPI,” stated the 22-page report.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Transparency International Secretariat Daniel Eriksson, this year’s index suggests that the corruption levels “are at a worldwide standstill”.
“This year, the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever,” he said.
Eriksson noted that human rights and democracy across the world are under assault, while indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has been used in many countries as an excuse to side-step important checks and balances and to curtail basic freedoms.
He said the latest analysis showed that protecting human rights was crucial in the fight against corruption, adding that countries with well-protected civil liberties generally scored higher on the index while countries that violate civil liberties tend to score lower.
Additionally, he noted, checks and balances were being undermined not only in countries with systematic corruption and weak institutions, but also among established democracies.
“Respecting human rights is essential for controlling corruption because empowered citizens have the space to challenge injustice,” Eriksson said. “There is an urgent need to accelerate the fight against corruption if we are to halt human rights abuses and democratic decline across the globe.”
The report recommended that to end the vicious cycle of corruption, countries should uphold the rights needed to hold power to account, restore and strengthen institutional check on power, uphold the right to information in government spending and combat transnational corruption.
In her analysis, Chair of Transparency International Delia Ferreira Rubio said since 2012, about 90 per cent of countries have stagnated or declined in their civil liberties score.
She noted that corruption undermines the ability of governments to guarantee the human rights of their citizens, adding that this affects the delivery of public services, the dispensation of justice and the provision of safety for all.