The impact of administrative and financial corruption on human rights



Verified academic


School of Law

Al-Rafidain University College

Dr. Bushra Al-Obaidi is a recognised expert in international criminal law and a Professor of Law at Al Rafidain University College in Baghdad.


My research examines corruption in Iraq, which is a highly corrupt country in terms of human rights. High corruption levels have persisted for years, especially since the collapse of the regime in 2003

The spread of corruption is directly related to human rights. Citizens have started to feel that corruption is the only way out, and it is expanding. This corruption has led to human trafficking, drugs, crime, and a lack of justice.

Criminals can buy their way out of punishment, which alarms citizens who then begin to use corruption for survival. I wrote a paper to expose this dark side of corruption, focusing on its impact on human rights, which I believe is even more severe than its political consequences.

Key Findings

The collapse of Iraqi society and the spread of criminal activities signify a total breakdown in the government and society. This is not a government where laws apply to everyone. With no respect and no politics, the spread of militias and weapons is a prime reason for corruption. This increased power leads to human rights violations.
The total collapse of ethical and societal codes is evident in the daily criminal activity taking place in the daylight and numerous strange lawsuits. It is uncommon to find an employee who is not corrupt. The expectation of having to pay bribes to get things done has become ingrained in society. If we don't pay a bribe, it feels strange to us, and we start to worry that our paperwork won't get processed.
Respecting human rights should be the priority of the government and the judicial system. The people currently holding these positions are not experts. Even consultants in human rights don't fully understand the topic. If human rights are not prioritised, we can't move forward. We will keep diagnosing problems without taking action.
The judicial system, which should be our insurance, is corrupt. Judges are chosen by corrupt individuals in political parties, not by the parliament. Judges who are not biased towards these corrupt parties can be killed, and many have been. Courts are corrupt, and judges are scared. They sometimes have to rely on corruption for their survival.
I have witnessed the selection process for government positions, which should be based on meritocracy and expertise. However, some individuals pay experts to secure their positions, opening the door for more efficient criminal activities through forgery and nepotism.

How to use

The first step is for the government to prioritise human rights and bring them to the forefront. Regulations have many loopholes, so we need to review and revise laws to fill those gaps.
We need to make penalties harsher for corruption. When fighting corruption, we should do it with research and respect for human rights so that they don't get affected. Fighting corruption isn't only about the economic realm; it is most important to focus on human rights as a whole. We should look at the causes first, through research and intellect, to make a significant impact on human well-being.
In the Iraqi constitution, judges should not be chosen by parliaments but should be publicly elected by ordinary people. This would prevent corrupt parties from influencing the judicial system.

Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

Bushra Al-Obaidi. (2022). ‘The impact of administrative and financial corruption on human rights’. Journal of Positive School Psychology , 6(4), pp.4418-4440.

About this research

This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

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About this research

This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

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What it means

In the fight against corruption, criminals should be arrested, but there is often an omission of the impact on the criminal’s family. The current Iraqi regime does not prioritise human rights when fighting corruption. It claims to fight corruption, but it doesn’t genuinely care about human rights. The focus should be on human rights alongside efforts to combat corruption.

Corrupt individuals range from low-level employees to top officials. The corruption-fighting organisation often only targets the lower-level individuals, while the higher-ups remain untouched. This lack of equality, despite the constitution, results in some people facing severe penalties, while others go unpunished. Citizens see this inequality, and it infringes on their sense of safety and dignity, causing them to lose faith in their human rights.

The results of this corruption are numerous. Citizens feel the discrimination, and it leads to a sense of injustice. Laws seem to apply only to less powerful people, which leads them to engage in criminal activities in pursuit of a better life. This provocation leads people to imitate criminals to survive. When people feel that laws don’t apply to everyone, they seek out criminal activities for dignity.

There are Iraqi laws about penalties for corruption, bribery, and other corrupt activities. But when you study these texts, you will see that the penalties are weak and not intimidating. Crimes that receive no more than a year of prison can be downgraded by judges, so those handling corruption cases often make the charges drop. The Law 111 of 1969 allows for prison or fines, but they focus on fines only, and they don’t give prison sentences. Prison sentences range from 24 hours to 5 years, which is too lenient. Judges make it easier and easier for the corrupt.

Previously, Saber Al-Aysaoui stole from Baghdad banks and was only given one year of prison for billions of dollars. He eventually escaped outside of Iraq. The judicial system has become worse in the past 3-4 years. Criminals used to have to return the money they stole and then be cleared from justice, but that requirement has been revoked. Corrupt individuals cited that this is against human rights and breaks Iraqi law, so now the criminal does not have to return the money they stole. They just receive a lenient penalty and later enjoy the money. People see this and are encouraged to engage in corruption because it is attractive. They even bribe judges to clear their records. This situation is not good for human rights. We have no refuge if there are no penalties. Criminality will spread because it is easy to get away with crimes.


I have done research and met people in organisations that opened doors to insights. The internet and past papers have been helpful, as all these cases are now being put online. The press is also involved, and many victims talk to us about their experiences, allowing me to collect first-hand document accounts.

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