Cyprus has taken a step in the right direction as regards corruption, GRECO report says

Cyprus has taken a step in the right direction as regards corruption and after four compliance reports and five years, it has now implemented many of GRECO’s recommendations, the Annual Report of the Organization says.

GRECO, the Group of States Against Corruption, published its Seventeenth General Activity Report (2016) and it says amongst other things, that there are many success stories and one of them is the case of Cyprus”.

Concerning political financing in particular, the report says that transparency has been enhanced in the system of political financing in Cyprus. The new obligation for political parties and election candidates to draft and submit specific reports relating to election campaigns is a very positive step, as is the involvement of the Auditor General in the monitoring.

While a few shortcomings remain, over time, Cyprus has achieved very positive results and the current level of implementation of the recommendations is no longer globally unsatisfactory and nearing full compliance the report says.

A press release issued on Thursday, following the publication of the annual report, says that GRECO has called on European governments, parliaments and judicial governing bodies to step up their efforts to create more effective preventive mechanisms against corruption.

The report provides a review of GRECOs 49 member states action against corruption in 2016, and points out that countries too often over-rely on the repressive aspects of fighting corruption and underestimate the effectiveness of preventive mechanisms, which often do not exist or are too weak.

Secretary General ThorbjA�rn Jagland said that corruption is a major source of dissatisfaction and loss of trust in politics and democratic institutions, pointing out that it is crucial that states have the right legislation and resources not only to investigate and punish corruption offences, but also to prevent them.

There can be no tolerance for corruption, wherever it occurs, he said, adding that in the report, GRECO expresses concern about the slowing down in the implementation of its recommendations concerning the transparency of political party funding and the prevention of corruption in respect of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.

GRECO’s Chair, Marin Mrcela said that many countries are facing difficulties to comply with GRECO recommendations and this is partly due to the complexity of the issues evaluated and to the need for strong political consensus to implement many recommendations.

Political leaders should show unwavering political will and lead by example to combat corruption and create a culture of integrity, he said.

By the end of 2016, states evaluated on the criminalisation of corruption and the transparency of political funding had not yet fully complied with almost one third of GRECOs recommendations (25% remained partly implemented and 7% not implemented).

States today, according to the report, comply with the most important recommendations on the criminalisation of corruption, although technical improvements are still required in particular concerning offences such as trading in influence and bribery in the private sector.

GRECO’s initial evaluation of transparency of political funding revealed substantial flaws in all parts of Europe. Many shortcomings were related to public access to party accounts, the independence of the body overseeing political accounts and inadequate sanctioning systems. Legislation to correct these flaws has been introduced, but many countries have not yet complied with a significant number of recommendations.

As regards recommendations on the prevention of corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors, by the end of 2016, GRECO had only evaluated the level of compliance of 20 states. 78% of GRECO recommendations had not been fully complied with. 46% of those recommendations had been partly implemented and 32% not implemented. The report notably stresses the need to improve the way conflicts of interest, lobbying and the systems for the declaration of assets are dealt with.

The report welcomes that codes of ethics for parliamentarians have been introduced in many countries, although their monitoring and enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened. With regard to some states, GRECO expresses concern about the independence of the judiciary and the participation of magistrates in political life, and underlines the need for codes of ethics for these professionals.

Source: Cyprus News Agency