BERLIN  - More than half of respondents in a global corruption survey released Tuesday think that graft has worsened over the past two years, and a quarter reported having paid officials a bribe in the last 12 months.
The survey by Berlin-based non-profit group Transparency International also found that people have least trust in institutions meant to help or protect them, including police, the courts and political parties. Respondents also believed official anti-corruption efforts had deteriorated since the 2008 start of the world financial and economic crisis.
The group’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013 is the world’s largest public opinion survey on corruption. It surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries, the group said. It found that 27 per cent of respondents had said they had paid a bribe to a member of a public service or institution in the past 12 months, revealing no improvement from previous surveys.
The group pointed to a link between poverty and graft. Eight of the 10 countries with the highest bribery rates are African, said a Transparency spokesman.
In 36 countries, respondents viewed police as the most corrupt, while 20 countries view the judiciary as the most graft-ridden. In 51 countries political parties were seen as the most corrupt institution.
People’s appraisal of government efforts to stop corruption was worse than before the financial crisis began in 2008, falling to 22 percent now from 31 per cent then. Still, the group said that there was a growing will to fight back, with two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe saying they had refused.
Meanwhile, corruption has worsened in most Arab countries since their 2011 revolutions, even though anger with corrupt officials was a major reason for the uprisings, according to a public opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The survey by Transparency International, a global non-governmental body which studies bribery around the world, appears to dash hopes that the Arab Spring would produce cleaner government and business in the region. The Arab public’s continued frustration with corruption may undermine governments’ efforts to restore political stability, while hindering economic growth and foreign investment.
Of four countries which experienced changes of government during the Arab Spring, a majority of respondents in three -Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen - feel the level of corruption has risen in the past two years, the survey showed.
In Egypt, 64 percent said corruption had worsened; in Tunisia, the proportion was 80 percent. The exception was Libya, where only 46 percent said the country had become more corrupt.
Within Egypt, 78 percent of respondents said the police were corrupt or extremely corrupt. The proportion was 65 percent for the judiciary and 45 percent for the military, one of the country’s most respected institutions which ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last week sparking a wave of protests.
The survey also showed growing public disenchantment in many other Arab countries which did not experience revolutions but where the Arab Spring has increased political tensions.
In Lebanon, 84 percent said corruption had worsened in the past two years, in Morocco 56 percent and in Iraq, 60 percent. The ratio in Jordan was 39 percent, while 44 percent said the level of bribery had stayed the same.
Christoph Wilcke, Middle East and North Africa director for Transparency International, said the police, judiciary and political parties in Arab countries needed to be reformed in order to gain the trust of the public.
In the social and economic turmoil that has followed the Arab Spring, however, governments have had little time or energy to push such reforms.
“There is a contradiction between policy and rhetoric,” said Wilcke.
For example, in an attempt to attract foreign investment the Egyptian government reconciled itself with some members of the former regime of Hosni Mubarak who had been convicted of corruption, he added.
The survey was based on interviews with about 1,000 people in each country between last September and March this year.