Albania has fallen down the list of the world’s most corrupt countries, coming in at 110 out of 180. This marks a decline of 27 places since 2016, and six places since 2020, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021.
“Human rights are not simply a nice-to-have in the fight against corruption. Authoritarianism makes anti-corruption efforts dependent on the whims of an elite. Ensuring that civil society and the media can speak freely and hold power to account is the only sustainable route to a corruption-free society,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, the Chair of Transparency International.
It scored just 35 points out of a possible 100, placing it in the same league as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malawi, Mongolia, and Thailand. Regionally it was surpassed by North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo.
The world average was a score of 43 out of 100, putting Albania a full eight points below average. In Europe, the average score was 66 out of 100, meaning Albania was almost 50% below, falling far behind its European counterparts.
The report noted that fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and access to justice are integral to keeping corruption in check. However, the current wave of authoritarianism is driven by gradual efforts to undermine democracy. This is accomplished through attacks on civil and political rights, undermining the activities of election bodies, and controlling the media.
“Such attacks allow corrupt regimes to evade accountability and criticism, creating an environment for corruption to flourish,” the report found.
In Albania, TI observed that 35 journalists had been targeted with lawsuits and intimidation in 2021. Furthermore, there was “excessive control of information” related to COVID-19. Additionally, concerns over police violence during protests and breaches of freedom of assembly were reported throughout the pandemic.
“The pandemic was also used as an excuse to reduce oversight and accountability for public procurement and foreign aid spending, allowing corruption to spread widely,” the report noted.