J'cans say Government corruption a big problem — report

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J'cans say Government corruption a big problem — report

Monday, September 23, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — A new report from Transparency International reveals that nearly half of Jamaicans think corruption is getting worse in the island and the Government is not doing enough to tackle it.

The 2019 report, entitled, Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) — Latin America and the Caribbean, was released today and highlights citizens' views and experiences of bribery and corruption.

It revealed that more than 78 per cent of the 1,044 Jamaicans surveyed think Government corruption is a big problem, while 49 per cent think it has increased within the last year.

Despite the 73 per cent of people who agreed that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption, more than 80 per cent of respondents were concerned about retaliation in Jamaica.

As it relates to whether or not the Government is doing a good job of fighting corruption, 47 per cent of citizens agreed while 48 per cent disagreed. The remaining five per cent did not know.

The study also focused on bribery within the country, showing that 17 per cent of public service users paid a bribe in the last 12 months with the police highlighted as the most likely to demand or receive a bribe (18 per cent), while other services like utilities, including electricity and water, follow closely behind at 16 per cent.

Equally troubling, 12 per cent of citizens said they were offered bribes in exchange for votes and 18 per cent indicated that they experienced 'sextortion' (sexual extortion) or know someone who has.

Meanwhile, the police emerged as the most corrupt institution, as 49 per cent of respondents think that most or all people in the institution is corrupt. This was followed by Members of Parliament at 44 per cent, government officials at 39 per cent, local government officials at 37 per cent and the prime minister at 34 per cent.

“Too often, presidents, parliamentarians and other political leaders act in their own self-interest, at the expense of the citizens they serve,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “In a region where anti-corruption efforts are building momentum despite recent setbacks, citizens continue to demand more and better from their governments.”

More than half of the citizens said they are aware of their right to information.

The report outlined that in Jamaica, the Access to Information Unit, located in the Office of the Prime Minister, works with civil society and media to increase citizens' knowledge of their right to request information.

“National Integrity Action, Transparency International's chapter in Jamaica, also champions citizens' right to know as a primary accountability tool, and works with the government and other stakeholders to spearhead public forums and activities, including “Right to Know Week” and “Right to Know Day”, which take place every year in September.

“Together with NGOs, the Access to Information Unit develops student essay competitions, videos and pamphlets that explain how to make access to information requests. It also trains government officers in how to handle requests,” it added.

Transparency International, in a press release, has recommended that political leaders take the following actions:

• Recognise and address specific gendered forms of corruption, including with gender sensitive reporting mechanisms.

• Strengthen integrity of elections and enforce sanctions against vote-buying, with transparent campaign finance and support for fact-based journalism.

• Empower individuals, civil society and media to report corruption, including with comprehensive legislation to protect whistleblowers.

• Implement the Lima Commitment, including publicly reporting on progress since the VIII Summit of the Americas.

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