February 23, 2018 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Sierra Leone dropped seven places from the 2016 ranking to 130 out of 180 countries in the 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.
The Index published on February 21, 2018, and put together by Transparency International ranks countries annually by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
The country was ranked 130 in 2018 and 123 in 2016, but the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Cornelius Devaux could not comment on the report, stating that he was yet to read it content.
According to the summary from the local chapter of Transparency International, Sierra Leone continues to face major challenges of weak governance, widespread poverty and systemic corruption, which have undermine the sustainable development and long term reconstruction efforts.
The reports says corruption continues to permeate almost every sectors of Sierra Leone’s public life, compromising citizens’ access to basic public services and institutions such as health, education and the police.
In 2014 and 2015, the country was ranked 119 globally in the index, but the current Minister of Information, Alhaji Alpha Khan had then challenged the survey, noting that it was not representative of the people s view.
However, the report notes that the management of Sierra Leone’s abundant natural resources, including illegal diamond mining, acts as an obstacle to sustainable economic growth. Drug trafficking and money laundering are also on the increase, with the country being used as a transshipment point from South America to Europe.
It also notes that, corruption in the judiciary and law enforcement are of particular concern, as they compromise the state’s capacity to contain these emerging threats.
The report says the country’s Anti-graft body lacks resources, staff and expertise to effectively prevent and combat corruption and the political will to fight corruption has been questioned on many occasions.
When president Koroma was elected in 2007, there were some positive signs of stronger political will to address corruption as he called for the review of the Ant Corruption Act in order for it to investigate and prosecute but it has not yield dividend.
Meanwhile, the emerging civil society activism, an outspoken media and the support of the international community to the government’s anticorruption efforts are promising factors accompanying this positive trend.