Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 11:38 UK

Bangladesh 'losing on corruption'

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Police in Bangladesh
The government insists their campaign is not politically motivated

Corruption in Bangladesh has continued to thrive since the interim government took power last year pledging to tackle it, Transparency International says.

Thousands of people, including leading politicians and businessmen, have been detained in a crackdown on crime.

But the watchdog said that in some sectors of the country corruption had actually increased since January 2007.

One of the survey's authors said corruption remained a deep-rooted menace in Bangladesh.


The military-backed government has not been afraid of going after some of the most influential people in Bangladeshi public life in its attempt to rid the country of corruption.

More than 150 leading politicians, officials and businessmen, as well as in some cases their wives and children, have been put behind bars.

Khaleda Zia (left) and Sheikh Hasina
Both Khaleda Zia (left) and Sheikh Hasina have been detained

Two former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, are facing charges of graft and extortion, and so is Khaleda Zia's son, Tareque Rahman, who used to be described as the most powerful man in Bangladesh.

His lawyer claims that Mr Rahman has been so badly tortured since being arrested a year ago that unless he receives medical treatment soon, he might no longer be able to walk.

In its latest campaign against crime, the police say they have arrested more than 25,000 people over the past three weeks.

This has put such a strain on the prisons, that the Home Ministry is considering releasing hundreds of prisoners who have served half their sentences.

But despite these draconian measures, Transparency International says that corruption has in some cases actually gone up since the government took over.

In its survey, which covered the first six months of the government's rule from January 2007, 97% of people said they had been the victims of corruption.

Some 65% said they had had to pay bribes to the police and other security agencies.

Officials working for the education, health, local government and land ministries were also blamed.

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