Council of Europe Report Calls for Transparency of Political Funding

The Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) on Wednesday called on the member states to work on ensuring the transparency in funding of election campaigns and political parties.

A new report by GRECO points to a number of shortcomings in the anti-corruption regulatory frameworks of the member countries.

 

 “In general states are taking important steps to fight corruption and increase the transparency of political funding, but many improvements are needed. Governments must commit both political will and adequate resources so corruption can be prevented and fought effectively” said the president of GRECO Marin Mrcela.

The report says legislation is needed to make the sources of income for political parties more transparent. These sources include donations, party membership fees, loans and sponsorships.

Some countries still allow anonymous donations to political parties, and the disclosure of financial information of political parties is often not easily accessible or isn’t published in a timely fashion.

According to the report, “a large number of states fail to have a truly independent supervisory body and in some states such a body does not exist or has limited functions.” The sanctions for corruption are frequently weak, limited in scope and inflexible – if applied at all.

While GRECO found that the compliance with the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption is high with regard to bribery, some states need more comprehensive anti-corruption laws to replace their current fragmented anti-corruption legislation. In some countries, bribery in the private sector is still not criminalized, and in others sanctions for it are often weak.

For Ukraine, the report recommends the adoption of new laws regulating the judicial system and the status of judges. A “more transparent and competitive recruitment procedure” is needed, based on objective criteria, and under the supervision of a “permanent body of the judicial system.”

The report also recommends the adoption of new laws to regulate access to public information, listing of the information that must be available to the public, and imposing a time limit for disclosure of such information by public authorities in Ukraine.

In Georgia, GRECO recommends the adoption of new legislation including “a general code of conduct for public officials, providing for an obligation to report suspicions of corruption and other illegal activities to superiors or law enforcement bodies.“ Further, the report recommends the adoption of laws that will provide protection for people who report, in good faith, possible corruption or conflict of interest in public services.

Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to apply special investigative techniques to corruption offences, the report stated. “Extended confiscation” should also be introduced, to enable “better detection and investigation of corruption offences.”

In 2012, GRECO will examine corruption among the members of parliaments, judges and prosecutors. The first countries to be evaluated will be the United Kingdom, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, and Poland.