KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A watchdog group says South Asia is the most corrupt region of the world and governments must strengthen their anti-graft agencies to prevent political interference and protect whistleblowers.

A report released Wednesday by Transparency International found serious problems with anti-corruption efforts in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

All six countries have public bodies charged with stopping corruption, but the report said “their hands are tied by political control over the staff appointments and budget.”

The group urged the governments of the six countries to strengthen the anti-corruption agencies and judiciary by ensuring that appointments, transfers and removal of the heads of the agencies are conducted independently.