Does the public trust the institutions of defence and security to tackle the issue of bribery and corruption in their establishments?

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This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

No specific polls on public trust in defence and security institutions are available. According to a 2017 confidential poll reportedly ordered by the presidency from the Brazilian company Sensus, Pesquisa e Consultoria on public perceptions on the MPLA government policies between 2012 and 2017, the bulk of the 9155 respondents all over the country find that Angolan government officials are corrupt, and see corruption, lack of ethics, and transparency as the root causes for the government’s failure to improve Angolans quality of life (1), (2). The document was leaked and published by civil society activists.

According to an Institute for Security Studies (ISS) (2017) report, “Incoming President Joao Lourenco will need to institute difficult economic reforms and restore the functioning of key state institutions. Reforming the security apparatus will be a challenge if Lourenco wants to streamline command and control and professionalise the sector … the fragility of the security apparatus needs to be addressed. Corruption and opaque arms procurement deals need to be curtailed; defence spending requires oversight.” (3). This indicates a lack of professionalism, continued corruption, and a lack of oversight or order in the sector.

Furthermore, the latest CPI score for Angola also underlines an almost complete breakdown in the trust of the people.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is little mutual trust between the military and the public, though some confidence has been regained in the defence sector following the failed, September 16, 2016, coup of the PSR (1), (2), (3). Besides, the lack of willingness of the government to provide the public with access to its sensitive information (4), and its multiple cover-ups of some officials (United States Department of State), do not facilitate the establishment of an environment of public trust in the ability of the military to tackle the defence sector corruption (5).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

About 56% of Cameroonians believe that the police sector is the most corrupt in the country. Police and gendarmerie officers collect bribes from road users and the public believe that this is condoned at the highest levels of the state [1] [2]. Although the government has tried from time to time to win the hearts and minds of the public by broadcasting the names of some gendarmerie and police officers involved in corrupt practices over the National Radio and Television [2], one of the reasons that the population does not trust these institutions is that the government fails to provide details of those tried [3]. Only about 37% belief that, in general, the government is doing a good job of fighting corruption [4].

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The defence establishment does not sanction bribery and corruption. The findings indicate that the anti-corruption measures of President Ouattara since 2013 (Plan National pour la Bonne Gouvernance et la Lutte contre la Corruption) have yielded mediocre results. A distinction should be made between public perception of petty, low-level bribery by police officers at illegal roadblocks or customs officials at the Port of Abidjan and the type of grand corruption of high-ranking military officials or former rebel leaders (COMZONES). The low salaries of police officials fuel petty bribery, while excessive bureaucracy opens the door to corruption for high-ranking military officials. According to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Côte d’Ivoire scored 36 out of 100 in 2017. TI said it was an improvement over 2016 when the country scored 34 out of 100. It also showed a marked improvement from 2013, when the country score was 27. Therefore, the trend in recent years suggests improvements in transparency and accountability (1). In terms of citizens’ surveys, the 2016-2018 Afrobarometer survey for Côte d’Ivoire suggested mixed results: among 1,200 people surveyed, 24% said that corruption levels remained unchanged and 32% said that corruption had decreased. But a total of 47% admitted they had paid a bribe (pot-de-vin) to a government official to obtain a document in the last 12 months. The Afrobarometer also revealed that 68% of Ivorians feared reprisals or negative outcomes if they exposed the corrupt practices of government officials. However, those surveyed did not focus specifically on defence and security institutions (2).

According to a May 2018 briefing paper on Côte d’Ivoire by Transparency International’s Anti-Corruption Helpdesk, there are few examples of civil society criticizing the government or exposing corruption issues. And the public trust in institutions is influenced by their political affiliation to different groups in or out of power. The briefing also points to the centralist structure of the executive, a legacy of the post-colonial era, and the fact the client networks and political patronage were seen as vehicles for personal enrichment (1). Public confidence in the fight against corruption at defence institutions remains low. Agencies such as the SNRGC (Secrétariat national à la gouvernance et au renforcement des capacités) initially managed to alert the public about bribery and corruption. But the Haute Autorité pour la Bonne Gouvernance (HABG), which has taken over much of that awareness-raising activity, has led to a degree of public indifference, as reported by Safiatou Ouattara in Libre Afrique (3).

This is indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The recent episode and defection of one the military contractors (Mohamed Ali) (1) who has caused a storm in the MoD after broadcasting videos about the corruption within the army, has indicated that the public see the army indifferent and clearly corruption without any will from the government for reform (2), (3), (4). It is common for many people to distinguish between the armed forces and the police when it comes to bribery and financial corruption. The armed forces are generally perceived as “cleaner” and less corrupt compared to the police (5). The reason behind this might be because people experience the corruption of the police first hand and have more direct interaction with its personnel and institutions. The Arab Transformations Project polls show that 88% of Egyptian trust the Armed Forces (5), (6). However, Interviewee 1 who was close to this survey project, explains that this high figure might be distorted by fear of answering otherwise. Also, these surveys were conducted in 2014 at a time when the armed forces were seen by many as saving the country from chaos and conflict (7).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

With particular reference to the defence and security sectors, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) finds that the military is perceived as the most accountable public institution by 17.6 per cent of the respondents (1). It is considered to be the institution which is the most open in its operation, transparent about its financial accounts and meritocratic. This is also confirmed by Afrobarometer, which finds that 51 per cent of respondents put a high degree of trust in the Ghana Armed Forces (2), (3), (4), (5).

Iraq’s fourth parliamentary elections held in March of this year drew the lowest voter turnout since elections were first held in 2005 (1)
Attracting a historically-low voter turnout of 44.5% is evidence of the lack of trust Iraqis hold of the existing political process. A partial manual recount remains underway. A public opinion poll published in 2016 by the Gallup Poll Briefing (2) suggests that Abadi’s popularity waned. Figures on which they base their findings were gathered in late 2015, discussing the hopes and expectations Iraqis hold of their prime minister, and “the public’s continued discontent about worsening corruption and poor government services.” “The high hopes that Iraqis had for PM Abadi when he first took office in 2014 have faded over the past year … Abadi’s approval ratings dropped from 72% in late 2015 … the PM’s current approval rating is about the same as the 50% rating that his predecessor Nouri al Maliki received before he was forced to resign in August 2014.”
Protesters latest attacks on government buildings and HQ’s belonging to political parties during the latest uprisings in southern Iraq (3), (4), have been understood as an expression of the betrayal felt by the masses in the absence of the most basic of services (1), (4). Relative calm has indeed been restored following victories against the ISG. However, this does not translate directly into greater trust in the defence sector’s commitment to cleaning up defence corruption across its institutions. Low levels of trust are seen by various opinion polls and ongoing of abuse of power among security actors, from corrupt defence deals to the harassment of civilians in former ISG territories (5), (6). Recent protests have led to greater promises of reform under the present and outgoing administration, but on various counts, the government has backpedalled on its proposed reforms. These reasons make public trust almost impossible to retain. As one analyst writes “Beyond rhetoric … the 2018 election cycle did not feature a genuine debate on issues” (7) on the implementation of anti-corruption reform. Another source identified “low trust in government institutions and low confidence in elections” as a key driver behind protests (8).
For these reasons, I do not agree with the proposed score change.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

According to the Arab Barometer data from 2016-2017, 90% of Jordanians have ‘a great deal of trust’ in the armed forces [1]. According to the same data set, 79% of Jordanians believe that corruption is a large (42%), or medium (37%), problem within state agencies and institutions, and only 7% say that there is no corruption at all [1]. Additionally, the economic situation and corruption are flagged as their top two concerns. This suggest that while Jordanians trust the defence institutions to guarantee their security and safety, they still think that bribery and corruption are insufficiently addressed.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.
Activists, journalists, officials and academics say that despite establishing the ACA, issuing new laws to tackle corruption and encouraging whistleblowers to come forward by filing complaints through the Government’s ACA or SAB websites or by mailing them, the public still does not believe that the Government agencies, including the security establishment, are serious about fighting corruption (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10).

They do believe, however, that many officials genuinely think corruption is unacceptable but is not a priority. These sentiments are especially common among young people, the majority of the population, who believe, based on the recent crackdown on opposition activists in Kuwait, that the security establishment is more interested in protecting the Government than in improving its performance.

As a result, many tend to dismiss these new moves by the Government as part of a PR campaign to improve its image, and not a real crackdown on corruption because the authorities have failed to jail or fine any senior officials in or outsideof the security establishment.

Even many critics of the security establishment, and other Government agencies, are not disillusioned with senior Kuwaiti officials to the point where they demonise them. In a recent tirade against corruption, Abdel Aziz al-Fadali, a prominent writer, suggested that senior officials were simply negligent and lax, and urged them to keep an eye on the performance of the employees they hire (11).

Perhaps nothing captures why the public is frustrated with the Government in general like the case of Fahd al-Rajaan, the former head of Kuwait’s social insurance authority, who is believed to have embezzled at least 390 million USD and who had fled to London in 2015. Despite their vows to bring him to justice, the authorities have failed to have him extradited and prosecuted, have failed to protect public funds from him and have failed to stop him from fleeing the country (12).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The LAF is the most trusted public institution in the country (1) and is perceived as the least corrupt, though that there may be some minor shortcomings (2). For instance, the LAF have taken steps to combat corruption within its ranks (1). For example, in 2017, it arrested seven soldiers for being involved in bribery and corruption cases at the Military Academy (2). In 2018, the military tribunal sentenced 14 soldiers involved in accepting bribes to enrol civilians in the LAF (3), (4).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no public trust. Here is one example of the public’s widespread view of the police²:

“Everyone, all Malians know this : if there is one group these days, besides judges and financiers, that is completely rotten with corruption, racketeering and all sorts of schemes that are beneath those who wear a uniform, it is the Malian police force. Under the eyes of the whole country, in the police stations and on the roads of Bamako and elsewhere in Mali, police officers are motivated only by money. There is no affair that cannot be « sorted » by police officers, of any grade, if one accepts to pay. The police hierarchy knows it, the government authorities know it.” Several taxi drivers in Bamako supported this view, saying that traffic police are permanently looking to identify minor faults to be able to extract bribes from motorists.⁵ Such views were confirmed in a 2013 survey by Afrobarometer: only 13% of respondents said that no police officers were corrupt. 36% said some were, 23% said most were and 23% said all police officers were corrupt.¹ Furthermore, a newspaper editor told the assessor that the public has absolutely no confidence in the police, gendarmerie or the army to tackle corruption.⁴
Another Malian journalist told the assessor that “corruption affects all sectors, from the very bottom to the very top. Everyone has his or her price. It is simply built into the system because low salaries favour corruption. Malian society judges you by what you have, not how you have obtained it. Everything can be bought. […] Corruption has not just become normalised, but people are seeking to maximise their income from illicit opportunities. They are not content with petty corruption. Corruption is deeply rooted in society and within the public administration”.⁶ Thus, there is no expectation on behalf of the public that state institutions, whether defence-related or otherwise, are genuinely seeking to reduce corruption.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

According to TI’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index, Niger is ranked 33/100 (0 = perceived by citizens to be highly corrupt, 100 = perceived to be very clean), placing it at 112 out of a total of 180 countries (1). These statistics underline a low level of trust in public institutions in terms of corruption. In general, TI’s 2015 “Africa survey” indicates that among African nationalities, the police are seen as one of the most corrupt institutions (2). Corruption and bribery in the defence and security institutions in Niger are not acceptable in the public view. However, the perception of what can be considered corruption differs depending on a range of factors. For example, a box of 25 kilograms of sugar given as a gift during the month of Ramadan to a neighbour who is also a policeman, may not be perceived as a bribe by the giving person, even though some service could be implicitly expected from the policeman in exchange (3).
How widespread the perception of defence and security institutions as “corrupt” is among the population is very important and reveals the level of trust toward defence and security actors. Indeed, some studies have shown that because of the deterioration of the trust bond, it has become difficult for police services to fulfil their missions (prevention of conflicts within the community, maintenance of public order, collection and processing of judicial information, etc.) (4,5). It is plausible that defence services are facing similar challenges. The October 2017 attack on the Ayorou (6) Gendarmerie Brigade showed how active collaboration and trust between the population and the security forces is an essential component in the country’s efforts to combat and prevent insurgency (4).
There is evidence that authorities are taking seriously the problem of reduced trust: there is a growing number of projects aiming to foster the bond between security/defence services and the population, especially in the border regions facing insecurity. The projects are conducted mostly under the auspices of the High Authority of Consolidation for Peace (HACP) (7) or as part of the bilateral cooperation such as the German GIZ-RECAP project (4) .

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is a public perception of corruption in the Military as a result of the long history of military rule the defence sector is seen as an important part of the security apparatus (1). The inaction by the FGN formed the basis of the belief that the current government is not tackling corruption effectively (2), (3). The Buhari administration has been accused of selective prosecution of those accused of corruption, especially officials of his administration and party, the APC (4), (5). For example, the head of the military, General Burata when it was revealed that he owned property worth millions of dollars located in Dubai and was required to justify the sources his wealth, he responded by saying “The property I invested was far back as 2013 before I became the chief of army staff, I never dreamt of becoming the chief of army staff and people are accusing me as if it is today,” (5). Despite the revelation of his ownership of property assets in Dubai which were inconsistent with his earnings as a military general, no action was taken against him (3).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Omani’s have trust in their government and the defence forces. With regards to corruption, they admit that there is corruption, but not at the same level as in the army. However, this argument cannot be proven quantitatively (1),(2), (3). there is no way to accurately access public perception of the Omani government in general, and there is a lack of information concerning the public perception of corruption and particularly corruption within defence and security sectors. The BTI report from 2017 states, “Omani political culture is dominated by a general acceptance of the government’s omnipotence” acceptance is unqualified in the report however which goes onto state: “There has been no public opinion poll to assess the popularity of the current system” (14). According to the World Economic Forum question “In your country, how do you rate the ethical standards of politicians?” Oman is ranked 19th in the world, with 4.7 out of 7 public trusts in politicians (5). Protests in 2011 called out corruption in state institutions, subsequent protests in early 2018 reportedly concern unemployment and labour issues (4). No reference is made to public trust in security or defence institutions about bribery or corruption, however, protests in the country have called out corruption within state institutions, although there is no particular reference to the defence. Furthermore, the fact that there is no information available about public perceptions concerning the government is an indicator that Oman is a police state, and people would be hesitant about sharing their views about the government.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The public does not trust the security forces when it comes to corruption and bribery. According to the Arab Barometer (2016-2017), more than 29% of people do not trust the armed forces (not the police) (little trust), and 24% do not have confidence at all. While 32% have average trust in them (1), these numbers match the general trust of the political level in the Palestinian Authority concerning corruption and also trust in the PA (2),(3).

Opinion polls regarding the work of the security forces overlap with the different political orientations of the Palestinian citizenry. In this regard, it is necessary to look at other indicators to indicate the citizen’s confidence in dealing with the security establishment, such as cases received by the military prosecution from citizens against members of the security forces that were subsequently referred to military courts for decision. In 2018, the Security Forces Judiciary Authority dealt with many of the cases received in its records. The number of cases received by the military prosecutor reached 2828 cases, of which 1452 cases were referred to the courts in 2018; the remaining cases are still under investigation (4).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is not a way to assess the public trust in defence and security institutions in relation to tackling bribery and corruption specifically. There are many indications that Qataris trust their government in general, but none of these indications are relevant to corruption. Dr Majid Al-Ansari referred to a survey that showed that ‘around 98% of the participants are satisfied with the government performance throughout the blockade, and around 88% indicated that Qatar could endure such blockade even if it goes on for years’ [1]. The same academic pointed out that ‘the blockade has proven that both the government and people in Qatar enjoy great harmony and the government enjoys the full support and solidarity of the people, unlike the other countries of the blockade who fear their people and do not maintain open communications with them’. In general, one may conclude that the people of Qatar trust their government, but unlike other countries, there is no public polls or quantitative data that can be used as an indicator of trust in defence. According to our sources, there is a high trust in the government and the armed forces. Besides that, there is little known about Qataris perception of corruption. [2]

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Public opinion is generally difficult to garner in Saudi Arabia given the limited nature of public polls and surveys, furthermore, there are informal restrictions on free and frank responses in surveys when they pertain to issues relating to the government (respondents may not feel at liberty to directly criticize the government due to fear of reprisals). Saudi commentators have at times urged the government to tackle corruption, in online petitions and on social media; however, these demands do not typically relate to corruption in the defence and security sector but focus on widespread administrative and financial corruption (1).
According to our sources in Saudi Arabia, trust in the defence institutions is very high. Perhaps as a result of recent arrests and attempts of reform in Saudi Arabia, as well as an intensive propaganda program, it seems that trust in MBS and the government is high, especially the crackdown on corruption, which was politically motivated (2).

Saudi Arabia received a score of 49 out of 100 in the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index survey, which measures the extent of perceived corruption in the public sector from the perspective of business people and country experts (3). This is a three-point score increase from 2016 when the country scored 46 in the same survey, which aggregates various data sources, international surveys and corruption assessments (4). This appears to signal that perceptions of corruption in Saudi Arabia are decreasing somewhat, potentially as a result of recent announcements and actions of Mohammed bin Salman, who has made strong public overtures about his government’s aim to root out corruption and thus open up the local economy and business landscape to foreign investment through promoting increased transparency and accountability (5). Saudi media have reported on the recent anti-corruption purge (see above) highly positively, portraying the campaign as a much-needed battle against corruption. That being said, Saudi media is tightly controlled and pro-government.

Since the onset of its military campaign against neighbouring Yemen, the Saudi government has highlighted the war effort and promoted the armed forces, which is a relatively new phenomenon in the country. This is reflected in local media reporting on the Yemen war (6). There has been no public polling on local attitudes towards the military in Saudi Arabia. However, on forums, such as social media, which is one of the only avenues where Saudi citizens give their opinions publicly (and anonymously), many people express trust, support, and encouragement towards the Saudi military and particularly the war in Yemen (7), (8). Nevertheless, public criticism towards Saudi institutions, especially the military, would likely result in government reprisals.

According to Kristin Smith Diwan, an expert on Gulf affairs:

“Historically, the profiting of particular royals from their leadership positions in defence and security – whether for personal benefit or for enhancement of their public position within the royal family and ruling institutions – was fairly well known and understood within the Kingdom as part of the ruling bargain and patronage system. Under the new King Salman and Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammed bin Salman, there has been both a centralization of power and a public campaign to take up corruption as a problem that needs to be tackled. It is very difficult to get any genuine read on public opinion in Saudi Arabia, especially in today’s environment which allows for no independent questioning of the leadership and its direction. Since, in effect, the system is in transition it is reasonable to think that people’s opinions are also shifting and at least publicly being guided by the new nationalist sentiment. In these conditions it seems likely that A) most Saudis are enthusiastic about the campaign to combat corruption and that B) many politically savvy and informed Saudis will remain sceptical about these being applied to those who currently hold the reins of power” (9).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

According to the Arab Barometer of 2016, 35% of Tunisians trust the Government to a great or medium extent, a decrease in levels since 2011 (1). Research suggests that the Military enjoys a high level of respect and trust from the Tunisian population. A 2018 survey found that the army was the most highly trusted institution in Tunisia. According to this survey, 97% of the respondents declared that they trust the army to do the right thing regarding the country’s administration (2). A 2016 survey also found that the army is the most trusted institution int Tunisia (3). The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 (Most recent TI barometer to address the issue) found that 14% identified the military as being corrupt (less than any other sector), compared to 69% who felt that the police were corrupt (4). The President of the Anti-corruption Authority (INLUCC) agreed that the army does not have a reputation for corruption, and indeed the Ministry of Defence has not until now been one of INLUCC’s priority areas for anti-corruption measures (5).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no evidence available to assess public trust and perceptions of the defence institutions concerning the tackling of issues of bribery and corruption. There are no public polls or public perceptions assessments of the public’s confidence in the government in general, let alone specifically about the defence sector. This sub-indicator has been marked as Not Applicable, due to the lack of information and evidence about public perceptions on the defence sector. It is important to note, that the UAE’s corruption environment has been described as low-risk, and is rated highly concerning anti-corruption efforts both regionally and globally in relation to business and investment (1). These scorings and considerations are mainly focused on the business and entrepreneurship ecosystem (2), (3).

Country Sort by Country
Angola NS
Burkina Faso NS
Cameroon NS
Cote d'Ivoire NS
Egypt NS
Ghana NS
Iraq NS
Jordan NS
Kuwait NS
Lebanon NS
Mali NS
Niger NS
Nigeria NS
Oman NS
Palestine NS
Qatar NS
Saudi Arabia NS
Tunisia NS
United Arab Emirates NS

With thanks for support from the UK Department for International Development and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have contributed to the Government Defence Integrity Index.

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