Immunity or Impunity? The effects of immunity provisions on national levels of control of corruption

Immunities or jurisdictional privileges provide persons or groups of persons some degree of protection against civil or criminal rules that do not apply to all citizens. However, immunities can also be used by public officials as a shield from liability for criminal offences, including corruption. For this reason, international bodies have been pushing, over the past two decades, for a set of legal standards to ensure that immunity does not translate into impunity. The international standards and best practice can be summarised in the following four recommendations promoted globally:

1) Reducing the range of officials provided immunity;
2) Reducing the scope of criminal offences for which immunity can be invoked;
3) Introducing clear guidelines and procedures for lifting immunities;
4) The specification of a time limit for the duration of legal protection.

This study tests empirically whether these legal standards are associated with better control of corruption in practice. The results show weak to no evidence that the set of international standards recommended to countries around the world are associated with better control of corruption. The only evidence of this association, albeit only significant at the 90% level of confidence, is that immunity provisions for MPs which are aligned with international standards are associated with lower levels of bribery. Furthermore, case studies from Greece and Belgium have shown that impunity can be countered without legal changes and that a practice of impunity can be observed even in countries that have robust legal frameworks.

Questions and Answers on Romania’s Anti-Corruption Implosion – Updated

In this brief report, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi answers key questions on the recent events in Romania regarding the passing of Ordinance 13/2017. This report covers questions on the ordinance itself, the protests which were triggered by it and the fight against corruption in Romania. The report was updated on 13 February 2017.

Measuring Government Favouritism Objectively: The Case of Romanian Public Construction Sector

Government favouritism in the allocation of public funds raises costs for any society in which corruption prevails. Particularistic transactions can be identified in three different situations: uncompetitive awards of public contracts when there is only one “competitive” tender, when public money is spent on contracts supplied by politically connected firms, and a situation of capture in which one private contractor obtains a disproportionate share of contracts issued by some public agency. This present research has tested for the relevance of those three types of particularistic transactions that signal government favouritism as they apply to the Romanian construction sector for the period from 2007-2013, and to do so has made use of original public procurement databases. Furthermore, it will be proposed here that the “kickback”—a percentage of particularistic awarded values—can be used as a measurement of corruption. Even conservatively estimated, kickbacks account for much of the cost borne by any society that fails to eradicate corruption. For our purposes here, amounts of kickbacks at county level have been controlled against criminal convictions for corruption at county level. As a result, data analysis provides strong evidence that kickbacks based on particularistic allocation of public funds are indeed relevant in the measurement of corruption, and the steps used to evaluate kickbacks can be used just as well for other countries.

Measuring Political Corruption from Audit Results: A New Panel of Brazilian Municipalities

Comparative research on corruption has always faced challenges on how to reliably measure this phenomenon. Indicators based on perceptions of or experience with corruption are the most common approaches, but these methods have also faced criticism regarding limitations to their conceptual and measurement validity. A number of scholars have thus sought to develop alternative, more objective, measures of corruption. Following this line of research, this paper relies on audit reports from Brazilian municipalities to construct a concrete indicator of political corruption. Data collection exploits the setup of randomized multiple audit rounds to construct a unique panel of 140 municipalities covering five administrative terms between 1997 and 2013. A first empirical application of data is presented, testing the potential deterrent effect of electoral accountability on future corruption levels.

Background paper on Georgia

Georgia had a terrible reputation for corruption, both in Soviet times and under the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze (1992-2003). After the ‘Rose Revolution’ that led to Shevardnadze’s early resignation, many proclaimed that the government of new President Mikheil Saakashvili was a success story because of its apparent rapid progress in fighting corruption and promoting neo-liberal market reforms. His critics, however, saw only a façade of reform and a heavy hand in other areas, even before the war with Russia in 2008. Saakashvili’s second term (2008-13) was much more controversial – his supporters saw continued reform under difficult circumstances, his opponents only the consolidation of power.Under Saakashvili Georgia does indeed deserve credit for its innovative reforms that were highly successful in reducing ‘low-level’ corruption. At the top, however, many UNM officials saw themselves as exempt: ‘high-level’ corruption continued and even expanded as the economy grew. Georgian Dream has not restored the ancien régime, but has allowed some patronage and clientelism to creep back into the system. The new Georgia has gained a reputation for ‘selective prosecution’; but some of this is dealing with causes célèbres from the Saakashvili era, while some is clearly persecution of the UNM.

Corruption: A Modern Day Hydra. Understanding the monster through the eyes of the people.

The present paper considers corruption to be a deeply complex phenomenon that should be broken down to its essential components in order to develop a deeper understanding of it. Therefore, in this study, corruption shall be broken down into three categories which are namely judicial, bureaucratic and political corruption. These three forms of corruption are “same but different” as even though they all entail the deviation of norms, the scale and effects they have on the society are in fact very different. This paper shall seek to fill the gap by examining and identifying the drivers of corruption through the lens of the general public by using data obtained from TI’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB). In addition, this study shall also seek to prove that people’s perception of corruption offer valuable insights and should thus be used to triangulate with expert’s opinions to derive a more robust and holistic measure of corruption.