BERLIN (AFP) - Governments are not doing enough in the global fight against graft, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) said on Wednesday ((Feb 21) as it presented its annual corruption perceptions index.
Many nations have made no progress at all over the past six years, the group found.
"More corruption correlates with less respect for civil liberties, for rule of law, for access to justice," TI chair Delia Ferreira Rubio told AFP.
"The index reflects the relation between transparency and democracy." Over the past six years, some countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast and Britain have bolstered efforts to battle corruption, TI found.
Others have slipped lower in the NGO's worldwide ranking, including Syria - whose civil war will enter its eighth year in March - or Yemen, where fighting has raged for more than three years.
"Countries where rule of law is respected, freedom of expression is respected, freedom of the press is respected" topped in the rankings, Ferreira Rubio said.
New Zealand remained in first place, but Nordic countries again dominated the top of the table, including Denmark at second place, Finland and Norway tied for third with Switzerland, and Sweden in sixth alongside Singapore.
Canada and Britain were tied with Luxembourg and the Netherlands for eighth place, while Germany claimed 12th.
Somalia was the worst performer, ranking last among the 180 nations listed, below South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.
TI's table is compiled by awarding countries a score of between one and 100, based on data from 12 international organisations including the World Bank, African Development Bank and the World Economic Forum.
TI managing director Patricia Moreira said that "no activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption".
"Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up."
States are scored between 0 and 100, with 0 being most corrupt and 100 the least, based on data from international organisations like the World Bank, African Development Bank and World Economic Forum. Here is a selection from the rankings:
1. New Zealand 89 points
2. Denmark 88
3. Finland, Norway, Switzerland, equal at 85
6. Singapore, Sweden 84
8. Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Britain 82
12. Germany 81
10 IN THE MIDDLE
16. United States, Belgium 75
20. Japan 73
23. France 70
42. Spain 57
54. Italy 50
71. South Africa 43
77. China 41
81. Turkey 40
135. Russia, Mexico 29
10 AT THE BOTTOM
169. Venezuela, Iraq 18
171. Libya , North Korea 17
175. Yemen, Sudan 16
177. Afghanistan 15
178. Syria 14
179. South Sudan 12
180. Somalia 9