Corruption is a Human Rights Violation

Some persons have long assumed that corruption is an incurable illness or an inescapable tragedy that cannot be reversed

Corruption may be characterized as an infectious virus that damages the basic aspects of social life. It distorts the fundamental ideals of human dignity, fairness, and liberation for everyone, but especially for those whose rights have already been unjustly infringed, such as those living in poverty and those who are oppressed or otherwise disenfranchised

Corruption deepens poverty; it demeans human rights, it degrades the environment; it derails development, including private sector development; it can drive conflict in and between nations; and it destroys confidence in democracy and the legitimacy of governments. It debases human dignity and is universally condemned by the world’s major faiths.

Corruption is present in all states, result of socio-economic or political system or degree of development, in both the public and private sectors. Whenever corruption becomes entrenched, it has the potential to ruin a country’s whole economic, political, and social fabric. Corruption frequently impedes the growth of equality before the law since it contradicts the principle of equal treatment.

Corruption is such a demonic creature that it has the tendency to paralyse administrations and devastate a state’s financial stability. In this regard, Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has aptly described “Corruption is an enormous obstacle to the realization of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development. Corruption violates the core human rights principles of transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and meaningful participation in every aspect of the life of the community.”

Some persons have long assumed that corruption is an incurable illness or an inescapable tragedy that cannot be reversed. It is, however, an erroneous metaphor, not only because it transmits a feeling of dread, but rather because it restricts efforts to alleviate it. Furthermore, for a great many years, even the international community has paid little attention to how international human rights procedures might be utilized to combat corruption. Similarly, the idea that human rights and anti-corruption institutions operate in separate compartments is partially a myth that has been debunked and is losing traction. In fact, the negative implications of the corrupt practices of the public official for the respect, protection and fulfilment of the human rights has been well documented.

Human rights are inseparable and interrelated, and the implications of corrupt governance are numerous, affecting all human rights – civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as the right to development.

Corruption dilutes human rights in a significant manner. Human rights abuses are a direct product of actions or manifestations of injustice of any degree, and corruption cannot exist without a violation of human rights. According to one eminent scholar in this field Prof. C. Raj Kumar, “corruption violates human rights as it discriminates against people; it violates the principle of equality and fairness as decisions are taken in an arbitrary manner favoring bribe-givers, as opposed to people who are legally entitled.”

Similarly, as per Naved Ahmad & Oscar T. Brookins, corruption has a huge influence on all institutions dedicated to the preservation and advancement of human rights. In fact, it might be claimed that eliminating corruption in a range of administrative spheres would considerably improve the implementation of human rights. Julio Bacio Terracino highlights, corruption affects human rights in a variety of ways. For example, the rights to food, water, education, health, and the ability to seek justice can be violated if a bribe is required to gain access to these basic rights.

In Symposium Report published by Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, it was held that States with the worst corruption have also the poorest human rights records. Therefore, according to Navi Pillay, “a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to anti-corruption responds to the people’s resounding call for a social, political and economic order that delivers on the promises of freedom from fear and want.” As per Office of the High Commissioner United Nations Human Rights (OHCHR), corruption may wreak havoc on the availability, accessibility and quality of goods and services relevant to human rights. Furthermore, it jeopardizes the efficiency and validity of institutions and procedures, as well as the rule of law and, eventually, the state.

Prof. Raj Kumar further advocates, it’s crucial to remember that simply acknowledging corruption as a violation of human rights would not be enough to put a stop to it. Nevertheless, a human-rights-based approach will considerably aid and complement the present anti-corruption measures in tackling the menace of corruption. A human-rights-based strategic approach not only draws attention to human rights abuses, but it also encourages victims and others to speak out against future crimes and seek redress for previous violations.

Divya Prasad and Làzarie Eeckeloo summarizes this approach by pronouncing, “the human rights approach emphasizes state accountability, which requires the state to refrain from any kind of corruption and to implement effective measures to safeguard persons from corruption-related human rights breaches. States must not just prosecute corruption, but also take steps to mitigate its detrimental consequences. The implementation of preventative measures will be significantly aided and enhanced by including a human rights perspective into anti- corruption initiatives.”

Dr. Shahid A Ronga is a Former Senior Research Fellow School of Law, University of Kashmir and can be reached at:

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