DUSHANBE, March 31, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- 29 out of 31 countries assessed fail at enforcing political finance laws, regardless of how weak or strong their regulations, the Global Integrity Report: 2011, a major investigative study of 31 countries, said.

Regardless of how weak or sophisticated their political financing regulations are, countries around the world are equally failing to effectively regulate the flow of money into politics, the report finds, which was released by Global Integrity on March 30, finds.

Twenty-nine countries out of a 31-country sample scored less than 60 on a 100-point scale on questions assessing the effectiveness of laws regulating individual and corporate donations to political parties, as well as the auditing of those donations and campaign expenditures.  Government monitoring agencies tasked with enforcing such laws typically lack investigative power and often have little to no authority to impose sanctions.

Tajikistan scored just 33 out of 100 on effectiveness of its party financing regulations and 30 out of 100 in its ability to effectively regulate contributions made to individual political candidates.  Disclosure of party and candidate political finance information to the public scored slightly better (50 and 56 out of 100, respectively).  Those scores represent a significant contrast with the country’s legal framework, which received the highest scores: 100 for party financing regulation and a similar score for individual candidate regulation.

The Global Integrity Report: 2011, which seeks to assess the medicine applied against corruption rather than the actual disease of corruption at the national level, also assessed other areas of government transparency and accountability.  These include conflicts of interest regulations, freedom of the press, and law enforcement accountability.

It covers developed countries such as the U. S., Ireland, and Germany as well as dozens of the world’s emerging markets and developing nations, from Algeria to Ukraine to China.  Rather than measure perceptions of corruption, the report assesses the accountability mechanisms and transparency measures in place (or not) to prevent corruption through 320 “Integrity Indicators” as well as journalistic reporting of corruption.  Gaps in those safeguards suggest where corruption is more likely to occur.

Other major findings of the report include the following:

Anti-corruption agencies often fail to fulfill expectations.  Many anti-corruption agencies assessed in 2011 are heavily politicized and are not independent from the governments they are ostensibly tasked with monitoring.  A lack of capacity and political independence is quite often accompanied by a lack of citizen complaints to the agencies, in large part because whistle-blower protections are weak or non-existent in many countries.

In 29 of the 31 countries assessed, government bureaucracy is considered an extension of the ruling party or is routinely utilized for partisan purposes.  The boundaries between public resources and party activities remain blurry in most countries assessed, with the exceptions of the U.S. (100 score) and Ireland (75 score).

Several countries experienced noticeable improvements or declines in their anti-corruption safeguards since they were last assessed. Liberia, Armenia and Tajikistan showed the biggest improvements, while Mongolia, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Liberia, Mexico, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and Zimbabwe saw decreases in performance.

The Global Integrity Report is the product of months of on-the-ground reporting and data gathering by a team of more than 100 in-country journalists and researchers who prepared close to a million words of text and more than 10,000 data points for their respective countries.