Report: Journalists are defenceless while corruption is armed!

GRECO’s 5th Evaluation Round on “Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies”. GRECO updated its Rules of Procedure in view of the new evaluation round. The new Rules increase the transparency and simplicity of the compliance process.

GRECO also acknowledges the essential role played by journalists to fight corruption and pays tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia. Her murder revealed once again the need to protect journalists who investigate corruption and to bring the perpetrators of crimes against them to justice.

There is growing recognition that corruption has a direct, detrimental effect on countries’ economies. Corruption weakens the capacity of states to collect taxes, discourages investment and financial development, has direct social costs reflected in issues like poor education, health and social services.

The vast majority of GRECO member States received recommendations on codes of conduct for judges. A third of these were to adopt such codes and the rest focused on their substance and implementation. GRECO insisted on the importance of active involvement of judges from all levels, in the development of a set of standards which should ideally be agreed upon following an open debate and discussion of their particular content.

 Concerns 26 member States assessed since the beginning of the 4th Round compliance procedure and up to end 2017. Statistics are not available when, by end 2017, a member State had not authorised the publication of the compliance reports(s) or had not yet been subject to the 4th Round compliance procedure

Le Conseil de l’Europe met en garde contre la régression dans la lutte contre la corruption

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Council of Europe warns against reversal of progress in fight against corruption

New legislative initiatives in certain European countries in 2017 reversed reforms previously undertaken to strengthen the prevention of corruption or started reforms that may result in breaches of the Council of Europe´s anti-corruption standards. Although there was overall progress in introducing new measures to fight corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors, their practical implementation remained slower than desirable.

These are some of the key concerns expressed by the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe [GRECO] in its annual report, published today. GRECO also acknowledges the essential role played by journalists to fight corruption and pays tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia. Her murder revealed once again the need to protect journalists who investigate corruption and to bring the perpetrators of crimes against them to justice.

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “Corrupt practices both at national and international level, as we have witnessed within the Council of Europe´s Parliamentary Assembly, constitute a major threat to our institutions and to democracy itself. It is crucial that national authorities and international bodies take a clear stance against corruption and swiftly implement anti-corruption measures. We must ensure full compliance with GRECO´s recommendations in law and practice”.

GRECO’s President, Marin Mrčela, said: “In 2017 there were numerous corruption allegations in many countries and institutions. Progress against corruption cannot be taken for granted. It requires staying alert; because there is always a risk of regression. Political leaders should show a strong leadership against corruption. MPs, judges and prosecutors should lead by example, and citizens should strongly demand from their representatives that they act not only respecting the law, but also according to the highest ethical standards”.

The report contains an assessment of the level of compliance by GRECO’s member states with its recommendations in respect of parliamentarians, judge and prosecutors.

The report concludes that by 31 December 2017 states evaluated so far had not implemented almost one third of GRECO’s recommendations issued in respect of MPs (30%), whilst they had only partially implemented 44.4%. They had only fully implemented one out four (25.4%). These recommendations concerned mainly asset reporting, restrictions on outside business activities, transparency of interactions with lobbyists and the management of conflicts of interest.

The level of compliance was higher in respect of judges: countries evaluated had fully implemented almost half of GRECO’s recommendations (42.6%), but one third remained only partly implemented (36%) and close to one out of five, not implemented (21%). Many of these recommendations referred to recruitment, transfer or promotion procedures, as well as to the need for codes of conduct for judges, which on third of the countries evaluated were yet to adopt.

Countries performed much better in respect of measures concerning prosecutors: states complied with 54% of the recommendations and partially with 32%. Only 14% had not been implemented.

During 2017 GRECO adopted six evaluation reports. Two of them were prepared as part of GRECO’s 5th evaluation round in which it has started to monitor corruption prevention in respect of top executive functions of government and law enforcement agencies. GRECO also adopted 40 compliance reports, and assessments on the integrity frameworks of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and the Conference of INGOs.

To pay tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia, the report features an article by her sons Mathew, Andrew and Paul: “Journalists are defenceless while corruption is armed”.

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