Looking for a driving license without a test? An effortless Baccalaureate? An open construction permit? Electoral votes in bulk? Wasta on the side, perhaps? ‘Dekkenet el Balad’ offers special deals on these products and much more to satisfy all your needs and desires.
‘Dekkenet el Balad’ opened its doors on 15 May 2014, in an inauguration ceremony held at the shop headquarters in Gemmayze and attended by a host of media and NGO representatives, bloggers, stakeholders and a crowd of curious citizens. The event was organized by ‘Sakker el Dekkene’, an ambitious, young NGO pledging to promote integrity and good governance in Lebanon. The shop was open to the public for two consecutive days, providing all forms of ‘corrupt services’ with a special twist.
The ceremony kicked off with a video on the concept of ‘Dekkene’, a stark portrayal of the country, offering a realistic and poignant testimony of our daily experience with corruption. The movie is spreading through YouTube and various social media platforms, mobilizing support and promoting the NGO’s tools and modes of operation.
“We participate in corruption every day, rationalize it and make it look acceptable to the extent that we are forgetting that we can stand up to it and defeat it,” commented Abdo Medlej, President of ‘Sakker el Dekkene’, during the event.
“What we consider as a tiny push to facilitate a transaction through bribery, favoritism or other forms of corruption, is actually feeding a structure that will end up dearly costing us our rights. We don’t realize that corruption limits our access to information, undermines our critical thinking and locks the country into economic and political inefficiency,” added Medlej.
According to Transparency International, Lebanon today ranks 127th out of 176 countries on the corruption scale, which makes us one of the fifty most corrupt countries in the world. Corruption in Lebanon has been on the rise since 1990, its effects magnifying due to the civil war. Not only has it won over politicians and high-level officials in the country, it has also seeped into governmental institutions and small administrations. The deterioration of the country’s economy has served to encourage corruption, supplying a kind of justification and rationalization for corrupt acts and their perpetrators. This is how we all came to live in a prosperous ‘Dekkene’ with branches all over the country, a broad customer base, and diversified merchandise and services that cater to wide demand. The gross ‘Dekkene’ revenue has exceeded 1.5 billion dollars per year, the equivalent of 10% of our GDP. This means that one-tenth of every Lebanese person’s income is sucked away by the machinery of corruption.
Faced with such realities, ‘Sakker el Dekkene’ proposes an antidote to the viral infestation of corruption in Lebanon. The antidote is to first hold public administration accountable for lack of integrity and transparency, and put pressure on politicians to initiate change and fight corruption. The initiative adopts a multi-tool and multidisciplinary approach to collect corruption-related data through its website www.sakkera.com, smart phone App (iOS and Android) complaint boxes, and hotline (76 80 80 80). The idea is to provide the public with a wide range of platforms to report the instances of corruption that they witness or are involved in (bribes, abuse of power, theft, etc.). Data is then collected, sorted, classified and quantified to identify corruption trends and prevalent patterns in Lebanon. By doing so, the NGO wishes to raise public awareness, engage citizens in the process of change, trigger nationwide, public debate, exert pressure on politicians, and lobby for genuine reform.
Other approaches adopted by ‘Dekkene’ in gathering data include a delivery car that will be driving around and stopping daringly in front of the most corrupt administrations to collect bribe reports from the public. Surveys and investigative journalism will be launched in parallel. Integrity training programs will be organized for various audiences and other projects involving the private sector will be rolled out. Lobbying for legislative reform is also on the NGO’s agenda to shut down the ‘Dekkene’.
“We are much more than just another NGO. Our initiative will be different, bold and results-oriented, leading corruption to bankruptcy,” affirms Medlej.
‘Sakker el Dekkene’ belongs to every concerned citizen. You can help fight corruption by reporting bribes, sharing your stories on our various platforms and reading the inputs of others. You can also donate in kind and/or join us to become a member or an ambassador of ‘Sakker el Dekkene’.
For more information about this press release, please contact:
00961 1 572001-2