The latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2023, released by Transparency International, shows a decline in the Maldives’ score, indicating an increase in perceived public sector corruption. The nation’s score has fallen from 40 to 39, placing it among the majority of countries that score below 50 on the index.

The CPI, assessing 180 countries and territories, uses a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) to measure perceived levels of public sector corruption. The Maldives now ranks 93rd. This year’s score was derived from assessments by Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, Varieties of Democracy Project, and World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA).

The stagnation in law implementation and enforcement against corruption is highlighted in the report. The Maldives has experienced ongoing issues with weak investigation, prosecution, and enforcement, leading to increased impunity for political and public officials. The CPI score reflects challenges in addressing grand corruption, which involves abuse of high-level power for the benefit of a few.

The global trend of weakening justice systems, reducing accountability for public officials, has been identified as a key factor allowing corruption to thrive. Transparency International emphasises the need for independent, resourced, and transparent justice systems to effectively combat corruption and provide checks and balances on power.

Transparency Maldives called for several measures to reduce corruption and restore trust in politics in the Maldives. These include strengthening the independence of the justice system, introducing integrity and monitoring mechanisms, improving access to justice, making justice more transparent, and enhancing the capacity and resources of state institutions for investigation and prosecution. Additionally, there is a focus on defending democracy and promoting civic space, particularly in implementing laws related to human trafficking and whistleblowing, to enable human rights defenders to hold the government accountable.