By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti has gained 12 places in two years in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index and the Haitian anti-corruption unit said the Caribbean country's ranking could have been better if Parliament had completed the voting process of a pending anti-corruption law.
The chief of the Haitian anti-corruption unit, Antoine Atouriste, said Haiti's 163rd position in the 2013 report of the perceived levels of corruption, compared to the 175th spot in 2011, was the results of efforts made by his office and government authorities to tackle corrupt practices.
"Haiti has gained 12 positions over the combined period of 2012 and 2013 and we are sure that future reports will show more progress in the fight against corruption here," Atouriste told HCNN, on Thursday.
In the 2013 report by Transparency International, Haiti has gained only two positions compared to its 165th place last year, but experts say Haiti's progression is due to the drop in the ranking of several other countries.
"Other countries have receded and the same thing could have happened to us if we failed to take measures to maintain our position and move forward," Atouriste said.
"We are encouraged by the report, even though Haiti's ranking does not exactly reflect the amount of efforts done to fight corruption here," he said.
Atouriste explained that his unit and the government have done a lot to improve the situation, but underlined the lack of progress on the part on the current legislature and the judicial system, in terms of laws and convictions needed to help fight corruption.
Officials say the results in the ranking will depend on credible and verifiable answers a country can provide in the questionnaire submitted to relevant institutions, among other criteria.
"For example, when they asked whether there is a unit fighting corruption in Haiti, the answer is yes, whether the unit has submitted appropriate law proposals to fight corruption, the answer is yes," said Atouriste.
"When they asked whether the government has cooperated and has provided the means to the unit to help fight corruption, the answer is yes or whether violators have been arrested, the answer is yes," said Atouriste, explaining he could go on with several other positive steps at this level.
However, the top anti-corruption official cited a number of shortcomings from Parliament and the judicial system, which, he said, have prevented the country from having a better score.
"On the other hand, when they asked whether Parliament has approved the law proposals that have been submitted to help fight corruption, the answer is no, whether arrested wrongdoers have been tried and convicted, the answer is no," Atouriste told HCNN.
A record number of 94 people, including government functionaries, have been jailed or indicted for corrupt practices this year in the Caribbean country, but none of them has been tried as yet.
Anti-corruption officials and several international donors have called on several occasions on the Haitian legislature to pass such laws, and urged judicial authorities to actually try people accused of corruption.
The special coordinator for Haiti at the US State department, Thomas Adams, recently called Haiti's parliament "singularly unproductive", while underlining that the current Haitian administration had taken "more steps to fight corruption than any of its predecessors."