A digital platform in Paraguay is seeking to improve the detection of cases of corruption and embezzlement in a country with a poor track record in addressing this issue.
The Institute of Environmental Law and Economics (Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental – IDEA) and other non-governmental organizations recently launched Control Ciudadano (Citizen’s Control), a platform that gathers public information from different official Paraguayan government websites.
The platform allows for information from Paraguayan government departments, such as data related to purchases made during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports about elected officials, details of suppliers winning public contracts and affidavits published by the Comptroller’s Office, to be visualized and cross-checked.
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Providing access to reports about the income and assets of all officials elected between 1998 and 2017 was made possible, due to a decision by the Supreme Court mandating that this information be made public.
According to the 2020 Anti-Corruption Capacity Index (CCC), Paraguay is among the worst countries in Latin America at confronting this problem. The challenges given included a lack of judicial independence, poor management of electoral financing, negligence in certain legislative processes and organized crime’s influence among various spheres of government.
This same report highlighted how Paraguay’s civil society was participating in transparency efforts.
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The lack of transparency around such areas as bidding on public contracts or assets owned by officials has facilitated corruption in all corners of Latin America. Paraguay is no exception but this involvement of solutions developed by civil society may offer an effective way of promoting transparency.
Other examples already exist in the region.
For example, the platform Latamleaks, launched in February 2020, integrates websites from different countries in the region and aims to provide a safe space for citizens to anonymously denounce corruption. This methodology was first used in Mexico five years ago and has enabled media outlets and civilian organizations to investigate big corruption scandals, such as Odebrecht.
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In Venezuela, a country with high levels of corruption, non-governmental organizations have shed light on irregularities and the misappropriation of public funds. Transparencia Venezuela, the Rebel Alliance Investigates (Alianza Rebelde Investiga) and the investigative journalism platform Connectas made a digital tool available with 230 cases of corruption committed by government officials within the last 20 years.
While such tools do not address the root causes of corruption, Control Ciudadano may help prompt the Paraguayan government to add layers of transparency in its management of public resources. As mentioned by Federico Legal, the director of Paraguay’s Institute for Environmental Law and Economics (Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental – IDEA) at the launch of the Control Ciudadano platform, “as there is more citizen participation, the possibilities and risks of corruption are greatly reduced.”