Muna Al-Fuzai

To fight corruption in a society, we must speak about it loudly and openly to pressure the government to address the situation. One of the most prominent features of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index report of 2017 is Kuwait’s ranking, which unfortunately dropped from 75th internationally in 2016 to 85th out of 180 countries in the report. Kuwait’s Arab position fell from 7th place in 2016 to 8th place in 2017.

The degree of transparency in Kuwait also worsened from 41 percent in 2016 to 39 percent in 2017. The report mentioned that the top Arab countries fighting corruption are the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

I believe it is regrettable and shameful that Kuwait is backing down in its anti-corruption policy instead of moving forward, and I personally do not only blame the government’s policy for the decline. Citizens are partners and key players, so we have to be honest here to recognize that there is an urgent need for reform.

Kuwait Transparency Society published a long analysis in Al-Qabas daily in February on the reasons that led to the decline of Kuwait in the fight against corruption, and the first criticism was directed at the role of the general authority for combating corruption, as this important body is still below the general aspirations of the local society despite the passage of a number of years since its establishment. The National Assembly also sought to amend its law, which cast a negative impact on the achievement of the authority and its objectives.

The society added that restrictions on freedoms of expression in the media and social media, where the number of detainees increased during the last two years, reflected negatively on the results in the measure of transparency and corruption, especially with the entry of a new measure of democracy in international assessments.

The report of the Kuwait Transparency Society said there are requirements for the reform of the situation by amending the law of the general authority for combating corruption and the development of Kuwaiti democracy by the adoption of the proposed law of the general authority for democracy. Also, Kuwait needs to adopt a number of transparency initiatives.
One of the most prominent recommendations of Transparency International confirms that corruption is linked to the dwindling of the role of civil society, because there are close links between corruption and freedom of the press. Countries that have the lowest degree of protection for the press, journalists and NGOs tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
Therefore, Transparency International appeals to governments that hide behind restrictive laws to review their laws and allow increased civil participation to promote freedom of expression and ensure that journalists can act without fear of repression or violence. Patricia Moreira, Managing Director at the Transparency International, said: “No activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption.” I agree. That is a true statement because corruption cannot be eliminated if the media is suppressed when reporting cases of corruption.

Transparency International said countries should give priority to corruption issues by implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which every country in the world has committed to. And countries must develop their countermeasures for the goal of reducing bribery by 2030. I love this one because the word bribe has transformed to a new term – commission – nowadays, which is used as a cover for this crime.

I believe corruption is the primary cause of a nation’s backwardness, and although there are many aspects of corruption, whether social or moral, I think that financial corruption is the key to destroying societies and tearing them apart ethically and socially, bearing in mind that the spread of bribery and the theft of public funds also have a negative impact on the state and loss of rights.

When the penalties and laws that should protect rights are not strict or not enforced against powerful figures and organizations in the society, it will be normal for a corrupt person not to be afraid of any punishment against him if his involvement in corruption cases is proven.

I trust that the first step to fighting corruption is to begin by studying the reasons for its occurrence, which can lead to finding appropriate solutions. I think there is still room for serious action by supporting the Kuwait Transparency Society as an arm of the government and people, otherwise we will continue to deteriorate.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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