Trinidad and Tobago stagnates in corruption index

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TTTI chairman Donna Jack-Hill – Photo courtesy TTTI

THE 2023 results of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has found that while Trinidad and Tobago has not worsened in perceived public sector corruption, it has not improved either.

The results were given in a release on Tuesday issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) under the theme, Corruption and Injustice

Since its inception in 1995, the index has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption which scores 180 countries and territories around the world, based on perceived levels of public sector corruption.

Data is garnered from external sources, some of which include the World Bank, World Economic Forum and private risk and consulting companies. The territories are scored on a scale of zero – highly corrupt to 100 – very clean.

With a score of 42, Trinidad and Tobago joins over two-thirds of the countries scoring below 50 out of 100. The report found that although this country’s position has not declined, neither has there been any improvement.

This years’ results focused on the failings of the judiciary to fulfil its role as a crucial check on other branches of government.

The weakening of a country’s judiciary, the TTTI release said, is tantamount with high levels of corruption in which the justice system can be politically manipulated to suit and serve corrupt officials.

This interference, from an institution that is supposed to be impartial and above reproach, only creates a distrust amongst the general public.

TTTI’s chairman Donna Jack-Hill noted, “when corrupt people weaken justice systems, societies lose their ability to protect and fulfil the rights of all people, with those already experiencing marginalisation being at a particular disadvantage.”

A country’s failed judiciary entrenched in corruption, the TTTI said, negatively impacts the quality of life of citizens as people are hesitant to avail themselves of its services for fear of retributions. Therefore, under an ineffectual judiciary, corruption will continue to thrive thus devastating the country as a whole.

One of the many challenges facing the Americas and the Caribbean region, the TTTI said, is a lack of independence of the judiciary. This, it continued, undermines the rule of law and promotes impunity for the powerful and criminals.

The 2023 results indicate that in most countries, little to no progress has been made in dealing with public sector corruption.

The TTTI said that this country and its people must be mindful that the perceived level of corruption is still very high as there appears to be an inability or lack of effort and interest on the part of public officials to tackle corruption.

In an effort to combat corruption, the TTTI is calling for an independent and strong judiciary, one which the public can trust to be impartial in dealing with any matters. “All members of parliament are called on to support the passage and implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Bill when next laid in Parliament for the protection of witnesses and victims of corruption,” the release said.

This country will face a general election in 2025 and the TTTI said it called for campaign finance legislation to be brought to Parliament, proclaimed and enforced – as promised, – before the next election.