Sri Lanka among 14 worst in the world for policing arms imports

Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Uditha Jayasinghe Sri Lanka has been placed among 14 countries that have the lowest accountability for arms imports, leaving the door open to corruption, a study done by Transparency International said yesterday. The study – a spin-off from the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2013 (GI) which analysed what 82 countries do to reduce corruption risks in the sector – places countries in corruption risk bands according to detailed assessments across seven areas in which parliaments play a vital anti-corruption role. It also shows, through detailed case studies, how parliaments and legislatures can improve oversight of defence. Fourteen countries were placed at the bottom of the banding, exhibiting critical risk of corruption due to lack of legislative defence oversight. These countries are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Only four nations – Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom – were amongst the top performers, with very low levels of corruption risk, followed by 12 countries which are at low risk due to better performance by their parliaments. Two-thirds of parliaments and legislatures fail to exercise sufficient control over their Ministry of Defence and the armed forces, the study found. Amongst those, 70% of the largest arms importers in 2012 leave the door open to corruption. “Corruption in defence is dangerous, divisive and wasteful, and the cost is paid by soldiers, companies, governments, and citizens. Most legislatures are failing voters by not acting as proper watchdogs of this huge sector. Whether the problems are due to the political environment, poor legislation, or poor commitment by parliamentarians, the good practice examples in this study can help them improve,” Transparency International Defence and Security Program Director Mark Pyman was quoted as saying in the statement. Transparency International estimates the global cost of corruption in the defence sector to be a minimum of US$ 20 billion per year, based on data from the World Bank and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).