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Majority of Americans Say Corruption Has Increased

A survey from Transparency International found that most people say corruption is increasing.

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As bribery and corruption appear to be getting worse in countries throughout the world, people are also losing faith in their governments' ability to fight such acts, a survey from Transparency International found.

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The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, released July 9, found that more than a quarter of people worldwide have paid a bribe in the last year, political parties are perceived as the most corrupt institutions, and the majority (54 percent) of people surveyed said their governments are ineffective at fighting corruption.

"Bribe paying levels remain very high worldwide, but people believe they have the power to stop corruption and the number of those willing to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery is significant," said Huguette Labelle, the chair of Transparency International, in a statement.

In the United States, 60 percent of people said that corruption has increased over the last two years, while only 10 percent said it has decreased by any amount, according to the survey.

Slightly more than 7 percent of Americans admitted to paying a bribe to any of eight major public services in the last 12 months. Of those people, 15 percent said they paid a bribe to someone who works in the judiciary, 14 percent paid one to registry and permit services and 11 percent paid off someone in education services.

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Overall, many countries found that people do not trust the institutions they typically rely on to combat crime and corruption.

More than three-quarters of Americans say that political parties are the most corrupt, followed by the legislature, the media, public officials and businesses. Those surveyed said that the military, non-governmental organizations and the education system were the least corrupt.

By comparison, the police were seen as the most corrupt in 36 countries and the judiciary fared the worst in 20 others.

"Governments need to take this cry against corruption from their citizenry seriously and respond with concrete action to elevate transparency and accountability," Labelle said.

People's views on corruption were the worst in Liberia and Mongolia, with an average score of 4.8 on a five-point scale. In countries such as Denmark, Finland, Sudan and Switzerland, people gave an average score of less than three, indicating that corruption was viewed as less of a problem. In Belgium, Fiji and Cambodia, for example, the majority of people even said that corruption has decreased over the last two years.

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In order to regain the trust of people in their countries, Transparency International says politicians need to "lead by example." The organization says both governments and political parties need to operate with more transparency, the corrupt – even public officials – must be held accountable for their actions and governments should implement whistle-blower laws to protect those who report wrongdoing.

"Governments need to make sure that there are strong, independent and well-resourced institutions to prevent and redress corruption," Labelle said. "Too many people are harmed when these core institutions and basic services are undermined by the scourge of corruption."

Transparency International surveyed more than 114,000 people in 107 countries, between September 2012 and March 2013.

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