The anticorruption group Transparency International (TI) says high levels of bribery, abuse of power, and secret dealings continue to “ravage” societies around the world, despite a growing public outcry over corrupt governments.
The annual Corruption Perceptions Index
, published on December 5 by the Berlin-based group, shows that two-thirds of 176 countries are perceived by citizens to be highly corrupt.
Transparency International regional coordinator Svetlana Savitskaya told RFE/RL the findings indicate a public demand for institutions and officials to be more transparent and accountable.
She said priorities include stronger rules on lobbying and political financing and more transparency on public spending and contracting.
Governments 'Still Inactive'
Afghanistan, along with North Korea and Somalia, were once again at the bottom of the Corruption Perceptions Index.
Russia and former Soviet republics also scored poorly – with the exception of Georgia, which showed improvement.
TI says its composite index is based on data collected in the past 24 months by independent institutions specializing in governance and business climate analysis.
Governments still remain inactive and still continue to act as before, and continue not to take effective measures to tackle corruption.
Two-thirds of the 176 countries scored below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
"Despite the demonstrations all over the world, in many countries, which were sparked on the ground of corruption, the governments still remain inactive and still continue to act as before, and continue not to take effective measures to tackle corruption. Everywhere, even in the EU countries," Savitskaya said.
In these countries, TI says, the “lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions” calls for a much stronger stance against corruption.
Iraq and Pakistan ranked 169 and 139, respectively.
Russia placed 133rd, alongside Iran and Kazakhstan.
Elsewhere in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan ranked 154, followed by Tajikistan (157), Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (both 170).
In the Caucasus, Georgia ranked 51st, leaving Armenia (105), Azerbaijan (139) and all the other CIS countries far behind.
Belarus was ranked 123rd, Ukraine 144th.
Savitskaya says the situation is not improving in Russia and other former Soviet republics, “with the very small exception of Georgia."
"These governments continue to be utterly untransparent and nonaccountable to citizens," Savitskaya said. "Even though many of these governments introduced very elegant anticorruption legislation -- very elaborate, very detailed strategies -- these remain to be not enforced and not implemented. And also there is a continued lack of citizen oversight -- civil oversight -- over what the governments are doing or not doing."
Savitskaya says Georgia has introduced “robust anticorruption reforms” under President Mikheil Saakashvili, particularly in the police and education sectors. But she adds that corruption remains a big problem in the country, including in the government.
WATCH: Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle presents the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index:
Croatia, which is expected to join the European Union in 2013, had the lowest perceived corruption in Southeastern Europe (62). Macedonia came in 69th, followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina (72), Montenegro (75), Serbia (80), Moldova (94), and Kosovo (105).
Developed countries -- Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand -- tied for first place with scores of 90 due to “strong access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions.”
Some European Union countries had low scores, including Italy (72), Romania (66), and Slovakia (62).
In a statement, TI Managing Director Cobus de Swardt said the world’s leading economies can influence the global fight against corruption by making sure their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable.