Sri Lanka’s descent down Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) paints a stark picture: plummeting four places from 2018 to 2023, now ranking 34th globally. This decline reflects not only unfulfilled anti-corruption promises but also worrying crackdowns on civil society and media freedoms.
The consequences are dire: citizens bear the brunt of this rampant corruption, facing rising costs and limited opportunities. As François Valérian, Chair of Transparency International, emphasizes, “Corruption will continue to thrive until justice systems can punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check.”
A glimmer of hope emerges from investigations: the exposure of Sri Lankan officials in the Pandora Papers, including ex-president and ministers, offers a path towards accountability. However, concrete action regarding these revelations remains absent, highlighting the deep-rooted nature of the issue.
Sri Lanka’s challenge is multifaceted:
Debt burden and political instability: These factors create fertile ground for corruption, as seen in neighbouring Pakistan.
Impunity for corruption: Despite investigations like the Pandora Papers, no meaningful progress has been made, indicating a broken system
Weakened justice system: Obstacles to justice for victims of corruption perpetuate the cycle of impunity.
Urgent action is needed.
Invest in independent institutions: A robust legal system with a free press and empowered civil society is crucial to combating corruption effectively.
End impunity: Thorough investigations and prosecutions of those implicated in corruption scandals are essential to deter future wrongdoing.
Strengthen governance standards: Robust legislative frameworks and ethical practices are vital to prevent future economic catastrophes.
Sri Lanka’s journey towards a corruption-free future is long and arduous, but not impossible. The will of the people, coupled with international pressure and unwavering commitment to justice, can be the catalyst for real change. The question remains: will Sri Lanka choose this path, or will it continue to slip deeper into the mire of corruption?