Maldives falls one point in corruption index

People drive along a road in Male' City. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives has fallen by one point in the 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score, from 40 to 39 points.

The CPI annually scores and ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived level of public sector corruption, drawing on surveys and expert assessments. The index uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

The Maldives, with a score of 39, is ranked 93 out of 180 countries in the 2023 CPI.

Denmark ranked the highest, with a score of 90, followed by Finland with 87 points, and Netherlands with 85 points.

Somalia ranked the lowest, with just 11 points.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Transparency Maldives said the data reflects the stagnation in implementing and enforcing the laws to tackle corruption.

As is true for the past years, Maldives has seen weak investigation, prosecution, enforcement, and implementation of laws resulting in increased lack of accountability of political and public officials,” said the corruption watchdog. “Additionally, CPI scores in the middle of the index indicates more complex challenges such as grand corruption which includes the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many. In such cases mere technical interventions, useful in addressing petty corruption, are not enough.”

Transparency Maldives echoed Transparency International and made several recommendations to the Maldivian government to reduce corruption and restore trust in politics.

  • Strengthen the independence of the justice system: Shielding the justice system from interference is paramount for its functioning. Promote merit-based rather than political appointments and ensure that the system has qualified personnel and is properly resourced.
  • Introduce integrity and monitoring mechanisms: Ensure that the special protections required by members of the justice system to perform their functions are not abused. Abuse may be prevented through dedicated whistleblowing and reporting channels, as well as requirements for judges, prosecutors and other relevant actors to disclose their assets and interests, and ensure that salaries are commensurate to their work. To hold political and public officials accountable, we reiterate our calls to pass the bill on Asset Declaration drafted by Transparency Maldives in line with best practices to ensure a comprehensive asset declaration regime and verification mechanism is in place to prevent illicit enrichment, ending abuse of state resources and vote buying.
  • Improve access to justice: Protecting people’s right to access justice is a first step against impunity and corruption. Strategies to pursue this goal include simplifying complex procedures, making legal processes available to all, widening the definition of victims of corruption to include non-state victims and granting qualified civil society organizations (CSOs) the right to initiate and bring forward cases of corruption – whether criminal, civil or administrative – and represent the interests of victims of corruption.
  • Make justice more transparent: Transparency can help shed light on the functioning of the justice system and make it more accountable. Ensuring that relevant data on enforcement, judgments and out-of-court settlements, as well as legal procedure and administration rules are openly available and can be scrutinized by members of the public could help discourage corruption and ensure that laws against corruption are properly applied and administered.
  • Strengthen capacity and resources of state institutes to conduct full, transparent and timely investigation and prosecution: Anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources, and independence to perform their duties, free from intimidation and political influence.
  • Defend democracy and promote civic space by fully implementing laws, especially related to Human trafficking and Whistleblowing, thus, creating an enabling condition for human rights defenders to hold human rights abusers, including the government, accountable.