Organization of American States: fighting…


For the 52nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States to achieve its objective “Together against inequality and discrimination”, the fight against corruption must be on the agenda. Transparency International urges governments to use this moment to take concrete action to fight corruption in order to create more fair, democratic and sustainable societies.

Corruption and discrimination work together in a vicious cycle that exacerbates inequalities, harming the most marginalized.

Despite efforts to transform our economies and societies, Latin America and the Caribbean remains one of the most unequal regions in the world, in part because corruption continues to fuel this endemic inequality. Across the region, elites with concentrated wealth are capturing political decision-making at the expense of the public good. Corruption undermines inclusive economic development and directs resources to those with economic and financial power and political connections rather than those most in need. The vast majority of the population is thus deprived of access to basic necessities such as food, water, education and quality health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased corruption and abuse and exacerbated social and economic inequalities, devastating Latin America and the Caribbean. Leaders must take bold and decisive action now to prevent the impact of such setbacks from hitting the region in years to come.

Marginalized groups – women, girls, indigenous groups, LGBTQ communities, older people, migrants and people of African descent – are feeling the impact of this corruption the hardest, as Transparency’s report highlights. International Defying Exclusion. Corruption deprives these communities of access to public resources, justice and fundamental freedoms, restricting their political, economic and social rights and exacerbating discrimination in multiple ways.

Discrimination against these groups creates additional opportunities for corrupt officials to exploit them, as some types of corruption are directly based on discrimination. Sextortion, a form of corruption in which authorities abuse their power to obtain sexual gratification, is one such intersection with discrimination that is common in the region. Women, girls, LGTBQ communities and migrants in Latin America are most often affected. Recent research shows that one in five people in Latin America and the Caribbean experience or know someone who has experienced sextortion when accessing a government service such as health care or education. Corruption also facilitates the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation, as corrupt officials join or facilitate criminal gang activities.

For those who face intersecting systems of discrimination, the harms are compounded. Migrant women, for example, already face a harrowing journey – and too often face sextortion. It is common for officials to demand sex acts for passports or to pass border patrols.

Corruption establishes systems of impunity that allow officials to abuse marginalized communities. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Indigenous and LGBTQ communities see this repeatedly. Many indigenous peoples have seen their historic lands ravaged by illicit pollution, illegal logging and mining contracts, but discrimination against these peoples continues to prevent them from accessing justice and to obtain remedies against governments that neglect their rights. LGBTQ communities are often persecuted by law enforcement, with documented cases of police arrests and sexual abuse. This practice is often made possible by discriminatory legal frameworks based on so-called “good morals” laws and even allowing “corrective” rape.

For many marginalized groups, reporting corruption is not an option. Too often, their complaints and concerns are ignored by authorities who refuse to take them seriously, while reporting wrongdoing can expose people to further harm from officials who themselves maintain discriminatory attitudes.

As anti-corruption efforts falter in Latin America and the Caribbean – or are dismantled by some governments – there is an urgent need to tackle the abuses of power that fuel inequality and enable human rights abuses. We need to fix this now for everyone, but especially for women, girls, Indigenous groups, LGBTQ communities, the elderly, migrants and people of African descent.

Heads of State and Government have repeatedly committed to anti-corruption efforts, as stated in the Lima Commitment and reaffirmed at the IX Summit of the Americas this year. But the promises have not been kept – it is time to act now to end the endemic inequalities and discrimination in the region.

Specifically, to advance equal rights for groups at risk of discrimination when implementing anti-corruption commitments, leaders in the region should:

  1. Integrate plural, representative and open participation of these communities in the design of anti-corruption and transparency policies.
  2. Ensure access to and protection of the justice system for all groups at risk of discrimination.
  3. Create robust, safe, and gender-sensitive reporting mechanisms for these groups to report abuse.
  4. Produce, collect and manage disaggregated and reliable data on the impact of corruption on marginalized groups to better understand the situations they face.
  5. Create regulatory frameworks that focus on addressing the structural causes of discrimination and the differential impact of corruption on groups facing discrimination.
  6. Develop and implement legislation to combat and end sextortion and ensure that justice systems have the right tools to deal with such cases.
  7. Sensitize the whole of society – in particular public officials – to recognize and change their own discriminatory behaviors through awareness education and training.

Signatories

Poder Ciudadano Argentina

Transparencia Internacional Brasil

Transparency International Canada

transparent chile

Transparency for Colombia

Costa Rica Integra

Participation Ciudadana Republica Dominicana

Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo Ecuador

El Salvador Fund

Action Ciudadana Guatemala

Guyana Transparency Institute

Association for a Sociedad Más Justa Honduras

National Integrity Action Jamaica

Mexican Transparency

Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana Panama

Proetica Peru

Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute

Transparency International United States

Transparency Venezuela

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