The index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption, looking at a range of factors like whether governmental leaders are held to account or go unpunished for corruption, the perceived prevalence of bribery, and whether public institutions respond to citizens' needs.
"It's even grimmer further down the index."
Brazil's big decline"It's even grimmer further down the index," the organization continued. "In Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and others, governments are restricting, if not totally stifling, civil society and free media." Russia sat in 119th place, tied with Azerbaijan, Guyana and Sierra Leone, although its score improved from 27 in 2014 to 29 in 2015, bringing its ranking on the list up from 136th place. Brazil, in the midst of a massive corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company Petrobras, posted the biggest decline, falling 5 points to a score of 38 and dropping 7 positions to 76th place.
Protests sending a strong signalTransparency noted that in places like Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana, citizen activists have "worked hard to drive out the corrupt." "The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world," said Transparency head Jose Ugaz. "But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption — people across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption." Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries studied scored below 50 and the global average was 43. Still, Transparency said it was a good sign that 64 countries improved their score while only 53 declined. The rest were unchanged.