Countries at the Crossroads 2005
Country Report - Eritrea
Accountability and Public Voice: 0.67
Civil Liberties: 1.54
Rule of Law: 1.03
Anticorruption and Transparency: 1.71
(Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 7, with 0 representing weakest and 7 representing strongest performance.)
Personal corruption among individuals has historically been low in Eritrea - and severely punished when uncovered - but the state and the ruling party have made extensive use of economic levers for political ends, often acting in concert. It is common, for example, for the PFDJ to pressure enterprises to include it as a partner in new ventures and to exact payment or a percentage of profits for its cooperation. Meanwhile, in recent years, strict controls on travel - both within the country and abroad - have generated a lucrative business in such documents as highly prized exit visas and, in the process, fostered a growing practice of graft and corruption among state bureaucrats. Largely on this basis, Transparency International rated Eritrea 102nd of 146 nations in its Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2004, scoring the country only 2.6 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Brigadier General Estifanos Seyoum, a high-ranking member of the PFDJ and a veteran of the independence war, was relieved of his post in the ministry of finance in August 2001 after questioning the equity of tax collection from PFDJ-owned enterprises. A signatory of the May 2001 "Open Letter to the PFDJ," he was detained with the other members of the G-15 in September 2001 and has not been heard from since. No public questions about tax collection or government expenditure have been raised in public forums since then. Nor is there any independent auditing body with authority to take up such issues. Under the constitution, the president appoints an auditor general, but this position has not been functional. There is no public record of the party's economic operations, no published line-item national budget for the state, no detailed accounting for tax collection or remittances - no fiscal transparency of any kind for either state or party finances. In fact, the line items for the national budget remain a well-guarded secret - not only from the general public but from most members of the cabinet and the ruling party.
With an executive-dominated government running a one-party state that prohibits independent media, quashes non-party NGOs, and detains without trial or recourse to appeal those who dissent individually, there are no whistleblowers for misconduct of any kind.
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