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Corruption has worsened in nine Arab countries over last year, citizens say
Achraf Aouadi, director of the youth-led, anti-corruption NGO "I-Watch" (Ana Yakedh) gives a press conference in the capital Tunis on May 3, 2016. Fethi Belaid/AFP
Ordinary people feel that corruption worsened in nine Arab countries and territories over the last year, especially Lebanon and Yemen, according to a report by an anti-corruption watchdog.
The survey by Transparency International of nearly 11,000 respondents showed that sleaze was also seen to be on the rise in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan and Tunisia.
Across the countries surveyed, 61 per cent of respondents thought graft had worsened in the past year. The poll also found that courts have the worst bribery rate out of six services that were surveyed.
“Public dissatisfaction with corrupt leaders and regimes has been a key catalyst for change in the Middle East and North Africa, notably with the Arab Spring protests," said the Berlin-based group.
“Yet, despite half a decade having passed since many of these protests first took place, our Global Corruption Barometer still finds widespread public dissatisfaction with government efforts to curb public sector graft."
Transparency added that “the majority of people in the region perceive corruption to have risen recently, and many think that government officials and members of parliament are highly corrupt".
The share of the population who saw worsening corruption stood at 92 per cent in Lebanon, 84 per cent in Yemen and 75 per cent in Jordan, against 28 per cent in Egypt and 26 per cent in Algeria.
Among the people interviewed, 77 per cent in Yemen and half of Egyptians said they had paid a bribe to obtain a public service, against nine per cent of Tunisians and four per cent of Jordanians.
Around 50 per cent of people surveyed in Egypt, Sudan and Morocco said they paid bribes for public services.
The poll results show that on average, almost one in three people surveyed paid bribes in dealings with courts, while one in four paid bribes to police – and around half or more of those who paid bribes to the courts and police had to pay multiple times.
About one in five people surveyed said they had to pay a bribe for public medical services. In Morocco, that figure was 38 per cent.
Report author Coralie Pring said the group was “particularly worried" about Lebanon, a country that has been without a president since May 2014, amid deep political divisions.
“Across a number of different questions the public were very, very critical not only of government efforts in fighting corruption but also of a perceived high level of corruption across the public sector," said Ms Pring.
A note of hope came from Tunisia, where there has been progress towards a democratic government after decades of dictatorship.
“Tunisia had actually very positive results coming out of the survey," said Ms Pring. “Many people feel that they can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
“Unfortunately even in Tunisia, despite the Arab Spring, still the majority of people were saying that their government is doing badly at fighting corruption."