Bribery is normal for half of Lanka says Transparency International
Nearly half of Sri Lankans interviewed for a random survey by Transparency International (TI) are in "total agreement" that bribery is a normal way of doing things in Sri Lanka.

Some 41.7% of the people were in total agreement and another 26% "slightly agreed" while a 10% totally disagreed that bribery is normal in Sri Lanka. As many as 70% of the people believe that ending corruption at high levels is more important than at low levels.

TI's report on corruption came into focus last week when President Chandrika Kumaratunga told a seminar of police top brass that the country's Police and Judiciary were "corrupt". She quoted the TI for this claim. Later she clarified her remarks to say that "only some members" of the Police and Judiciary were corrupt.

What she did not mention, however, was that though it was true that the Police Department was reported as the most corrupt institution in Sri Lanka, Education, Health and Provincial Councils/Local Government came over the judiciary as the most corrupt institutions.

The TI report had no classification for politicians, but had a specific category for the Ministry of Samurdhi/Social Services Department, which also ranked high on the ladder of corrupt institutions in Sri Lanka.

Here are some of the statistics from the TI report on Regional Corruption (Sri Lanka) worth highlighting. Some 41% of those interviewed pointed to nepotism as the leading non-transactional form of corruption in the Provincial Council/Local Government Sector.

As for the causes of corruption, 7.9% felt that it was the fault of the leaders when it came to education and 8.9% felt that power of influential people was to blame for corruption in the health sector. In the taxation sector, 15.4% felt that power of influential people was the cause of corruption in that area while 40% of those interviewed felt that power of influential people was the cause of corruption in the Samurdhi Ministry.

Looking into causes of corruption in society, the survey reveals that 20.5% of Sri Lankans believe low salaries are to blame for it, while 11.2% say it's the fault of the leaders.

Polled on what they think should be the cure for corruption in this country, a resounding 58.6 felt that implementing the law that is already in place would be sufficient. The survey also revealed the average number of times within a year that respondents have been involved in corruption and a significant 6.3% of them reported having corruption related experiences "once in three months".

Take action against corrupt judges: BASL tells President
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called on President Chandrika Kumaratunga to convey information of corrupt members of the judiciary and to take action against them.

BASL President Ikram Mohamed in a letter to President Kumaratunga has requested her to convey specific information in her possession regarding the corruption of members of the Judiciary to the appropriate authorities for suitable action.

Mr. Mohamed said the President's statement had seriously undermined the confidence of the people in the administration of justice in the country. His letter said the Executive Committee of the Bar Association had unanimously expressed their highest respect and regard for the judiciary as whole.

President Kumaratunga at a special session of the National Advisory Council on Crime Prevention held on November 9 at the Defence Ministry alleged that the entire judiciary was corrupt. The remark prompted the BASL to say that it could not by any standard concur with the view.

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