Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments and law enforcement agencies is of critical importance in promoting the rule of law in all EU member states.
This is what Attorney General Costas Clerides said in a speech delivered at a conference in Strasbourg organized by the Council of Europe anti-corruption body GRECO.
“Taking the small state of the Republic of Cyprus as an example, we can see that in the recent years there have been much more cases involving corruption amongst public or independent officials taken to Court, compared to earlier periods of time,” he said.
“However, the fact is that during the past 3 years, for the first time we have seen individuals sent to court and some imprisoned for offences involving corrupt practices, fraud etc., some of which were holding the post of mayor, of a member of parliament, of Governor of Central Bank and of Deputy Attorney General.,” he added.
Although this does not give a pleasant picture of the situation regarding the existence of corruption in the public domain, he said.
On the other hand these prosecutions and sentences do prove that the system of the administration of justice does work effectively and independently, he added.
Furthermore, Clerides noted that a committee has recently been set up in Cyprus, under the coordination of the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, with the aim of preparing a National Strategy against corruption. This gives effect to a recent decision taken by the Council of Ministers.
“Needless to say that the relevant recommendations of GRECO, together with the provisions of international treaties which have been ratified, will play a key role in forming such a national strategy,” he said.
“One of the main tools employed in the war against corruption is transparency in the public sector. In this respect, a bill permitting access to the public to any public document has been prepared and is currently the subject of discussion before the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs. Also, a bill providing for the encouragement and incentives in reporting crimes of corruption and for the protection of whistle blowers is currently undergoing vetting by the Law Office of the Republic”, he added.
Other enactments, he concluded, are on their way to Parliament regarding rules and regulations which are expected to combat corruption within the Police.