Corrupt Watchdogs

KATHMANDU, May 21, 2014 (AFP) – South Asia’s corruption-fighting agencies lack the power and independence to properly investigate politicians and officials for graft entrenched in the region, a watchdog said Wednesday. A report released by Berlin-based Transparency International said many agencies need their government’s consent to investigate suspected graft cases, while others face massive political interference during their probes.

“The region is characterised by a vicious cycle in which a highly elitist and unaccountable political culture remains largely unchallenged because the very actors who can bring those in power to task are being systematically silenced,” said Transparency International Asia-Pacific director Srirak Plipat.

The report comes days after India’s Congress party, embroiled in a string of corruption scandals during its 10 years in power, was thrown out of office in national elections.

The study, released in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, examines efforts to fight graft in six South Asian countries — Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“As long as nobody brings the corrupt to justice, South Asia’s leaders run the risk that future growth only benefits the p