Maldivian civil servants are unlikely to report government corruption due to delays in or lack of justice and lack of action by relevant authorities, a corruption perception survey has found.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) conducted the survey – the first of its kind by a state institution – from February to March 2014 with a sample size of 1,018 civil servants (five percent of the civil service), but the survey report was only made public this week with the relaunching of the commission’s website.
“A large majority of 63 percent and 65 percent respondents agreed they are unlikely to report occurrences of corruption offences due to delay or lack of justice and lack of action taken by relevant authorities,” the survey found.
Other reasons involve threat of dismissals, inadequate witness protection and lack of law enforcement.
Some 38.6 percent and 33.7 percent cited ‘fear of work environment threats’ and ‘fear of losing job,’ respectively, as reasons not to report corruption in the workplace.
While the 2007 civil service law states that whistleblowers “shall not be victimised or discriminated against”, nearly half of the respondents were unaware of legal protection for whistleblowers.
“Only 11 percent respondents stated a high level of whistle blower protection as guaranteed at their office whilst another 26 percent stated it is low,” the report stated.
Additionally, 42 percent of respondents said there was no internal mechanism in their office to report corruption, “which is a weighty concern to be addressed.”
Equally concerning was that one in three civil servants were unaware of the existence of corruption reporting mechanisms.
The survey results suggest that the most common forms of corrupt activities in the civil service are preferential treatment in the employment process (45 percent), bribes (37 percent) and misuse of state assets (35 percent).
However, a large majority (79 percent) said they have not been influenced to commit an act of corruption.
The watchdog ACC is perceived as ineffective. Some 33 percent rated ACC’s effectiveness as medium, while nearly half (46 percent) rated it as low.
Based on its findings, the ACC recommended that the “serious concerns” over reporting corruption should be “systematically addressed by establishing corruption reporting mechanisms and whistle blower protection at public offices as preventive measures to minimise corruption at institutional operations.”
The commission also suggested a process to reward integrity to motivate employees and revive integrity in the Maldives.
Since a majority of respondents perceived the ACC’s effectiveness as low, the commission said: “It is central that ACC directs its policies and reinvigorate its strategies towards seeking public trust and confidence including organisational development and efficiency.”
After falling 57 places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) between 2008 and 2011, the Maldives has been omitted from the index for the past three years due to lack of data from three expert sources.
The Maldives appeared in the CPI for the first time in 2007. A ranking of 134th in 2011 prompted local anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) to describe the country’s “grand scale” corruption as “systemic”.
In TM’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer Survey for the Maldives, 97 percent of respondents believed corruption was a serious problem in the public sector.