Barefoot Law partners with anonymous website service to reduce petty corruption in Uganda

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Barefoot Law and Bribespot international have partnered to reduce petty corruption in the community through whistle blowing on anonymous and secure online portals.

According to a popular Ugandan economist, Enock Twinoburyo, corruption accounts for an estimated annual 10% of the national budget and about 2.2% of GDP. Arguably, petty corruption cases contribute a significant amount to the aforementioned statistic.

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A dedicated channel for Uganda Bribespot will be moderated by Barefoot Law in Uganda. The corollary is that aggregating bribe reports submitted by the public will help highlight patterns of corruption in any given city: from physical places where bribes are paid and methods used to extract them to actual amounts paid.

Anybody can report bribery using the website, Android or iPhone apps. Whistle blowers are asked to indicate precise location of the incident and briefly describe it. Submitted reports are moderated and automatically published on the website, where they can be viewed and discussed by website visitors and app users.

Reporting functionality is anonymous, but emphasis is on users reporting only incidents they have experienced first ­hand and refrain from indicating names or personal details. A combination of automated filtering tools and manual screening are employed  to ensure that incoming reports abide by the stipulated guidelines, short of which, the reports are removed.

As a matter of policy, we do not ask users to provide any identifiable information when submitting a bribe and we go an extra mile to reduce the possibility of Bribespot.com user being identified by impersonal data, such as website cookies, reporting history or mobile device identificator, by encrypting user data on our servers. The purpose of Bribespot.com is to visualize petty corruption at large, not to pursue individual cases or pass a judgment on specific individuals. For this reason, we are much more interested in understanding how corrupt officials are extracting bribes and in what ways we could counteract them. Personal details add little value in this case, while posing a risk of litigation. For this reason we made the decision to omit any personal details from our reports.

Although corruption is usually associated with civil servants and Government officials, the practice has shown that employees of private companies also engage in bribing each other, think of a businessman paying media outlet for favorable coverage, which is why the private sector is included among all other categories.

Barefoot Law is a Ugandan legal social enterprise that uses social media to extend invaluable legal information to those who would otherwise have not afforded it. Whereas Bribespot is an anonymous and encrypted website that uses interactive maps where anybody can submit and explore information about extorted bribes.

What is a small bribe?

Here is the official definition: “Small scale, bureaucratic or petty corruption is the everyday corruption that takes place at the implementation end of politics, where the public officials meet the public. Petty corruption is bribery in connection with the implementation of existing laws, rules and regulations, and thus different from “grand” or political corruption.” And in our own words, petty corruption is the type of corruption people run into on a daily basis and which involve relatively small payments, think of hospitals, schools, local licensing authorities, police, taxing authorities and so on. NB Corruption involving politicians, high­ ranking civil servants and top management in private companies is NOT petty corruption and therefore should not be reported on this service.

Image via Garnisonen i Sør-Varanger for Wikimedia Commons