Country Governance

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POGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Anti-Corruption: Syria
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UN Conventions and Other Agreements

United Nations Convention against Corruption: signed 9 December 2003, not ratified.

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: signed 13 December 2000, not ratified.

Syria is a founding member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, established on 30 November 2004 as a voluntary regional association to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Syria has no contact with Transparency International.

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Government Institutions and Initiatives

The Syrian government runs anti-corruption drives directly, without the help of any specialized government body or NGO, although the tenth conference of the ruling Baath party recommended in June 2005 the establishment of anti-corruption mechanisms. Parliamentary sources indicate receiving "directives" for "the creation of permanent mechanisms designed to prevent and combat corruption through activating specialized committees and establishing a permanent authority that is not contradictory to the executive branch." Ad hoc campaigns against corruption have been occurring since 2000, when President Bashar al-Assad sacked a relatively small number of high officials, including a former prime minister and a former deputy prime minister. Syrian public news agencies reported that corruption was then costing the country a daily US$ 50,000. A more recent anti-corruption campaign in late 2003 removed dozens of public employees from the civil service and the military.

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Civil Society Initiatives

Ex-officials and activists, including former ministers, were preparing to establish an independent association to combat corruption that might eventually become a local branch of "Transparency International". Syrian authorities arrested the head of the court of cassation and his deputy on corruption charges on July 21, 2005. The Arab Human Rights Organization, based in Beirut, considered the arrest illegal because it was carried out by security agencies rather than by judicial authorities.

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Public Procurement

Decrees No. 195 of 1974 and No. 349, of 1980, regulate contracts and tenders for public establishments, companies and enterprises. Bids are supposed to be solicited transparently through the Daily Bulletin of Official Tenders, but deadlines of less than forty-five days are not unusual, implying a lack of transparency and predetermined outcomes.

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Anti Money Laundering

Following an International Monetary Fund mission in February-March, the government modified an Anti Money Laundering Law passed in 2004 with Decree No. 33 of May 2005. Syria also adhered on 3 March 2005 to the New York Convention of 12 September 1999 on combating Financing of Terrorism, but the US Treasury Department nonetheless prohibited US financial institutions on 9 March 2006 from doing any business with Syria’s principal state bank, alleged to be involved in money laundering and terrorist financing.

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Corruption Perception Index

Syria scored 2.6 on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2009. The scale runs from 0 (high corruption) to 10 (no corruption). It is in the 126th position among 180 countries, ahead of Lebanon but behind Egypt. Syria had scored 2.1 in 2008 and was ranked 147th among the 180 countries in the world it is just ahead of Iraq but ranks 17th among the 18 Arab countries. In 2007, it scored 2.4 and ranked 138th, just after Iran, Libya, and Yemen, in a field of 180 countries. In 2006 Syria had a rating of 2.9, in 93rd place, ahead of the others, in a field of 163 countries.

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