- Friday, August 10, 2018 2:15 PM
Brussels, 10 August 2018 (MIA) - GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), a Council of Europe body, in a report released yesterday noted that Macedonia's efforts to fight corruption were 'disappointing'.
The country, GRECO said, has implemented only six of the nineteen recommendations satisfactorily. Of the remaining recommendations, eight have been partially implemented and five have not been implemented.
The five unimplemented recommendations are the following:
This recommendation refers to the prevention of conflicts of interest and the acceptance of gifts, hospitality and other advantages in Parliament. Even though the authorities in Macedonia had indicated that these matters would be dealt with in the code of ethical behaviour for parliamentarians, revised in 2016 and adopted on 11 June 2018, GRECO assessed that the move was not enough despite saying it was a 'positive development.'
For example, the statement “an MP is obliged to respect the rules referring to prevention of conflict between the public and the private interest”, according to GRECO 'falls clearly short of any desirable guidance which would define more clearly problematic situations.' GRECO also notes that it remains unclear how to deal with 'protocol gifts' - whether these would have to be refused, or declared and possibly handed over to the Parliament.
This recommendation covers rules on how Members of Parliament engage with lobbyists and other third parties who seek to influence the legislative process.
Macedonian authorities pointed out to GRECO that they relied on existing laws, reports and expert analyses. Though welcoming them, GRECO said it was not enough or irrelevant.
GRECO underscored the absence of any new development or concrete
proposals to implement this recommendation, which pursues the specific objective of providing a set of rules for the conduct of MPs when they have contacts with lobbyists and other third parties, including established modalities of contacts, checking the identity and possible credentials of the person or organisation concerned and cross-checking with the information contained in any existing registers, understanding what interests s/he represents and declining contacts when certain conditions are not met.
This recommendations ensures that sanctions are provided in the relevant laws for all infringements they contain and that appropriate enforcement action is taken in all cases of misconduct by MPs.
GRECO said that information submitted only cover a certain area of 'asset declarations and no consistent and convincing data is available on the final outcome of proceedings and on the penalties actually applied relative to the sanctions contemplated by the rules.' According to GRECO, certain sanctions are 'not dissuasive enough' and that those imposed in practice are sometimes significantly lower than what the law prescribes.
Under this GRECO recommendation, the ex officio membership of the Minister of Justice in the Judicial Council should be abolished.
The authorities stated that in practice this recommendation has been fully implemented since the Ministers of Justice of the last two governments did not participate in the work of the Judicial Council, but for GRECO this was not enough.
GRECO said it regretted that there were no more prospects of removing the participation of the Minister of Justice from the Judicial Council.
In GRECO’s views, 'a risk of political influence always exists without formal voting rights or even formal attendance of the Minister in person at meetings.'
It has been recommended that the disciplinary regime applicable to prosecutors be reviewed so that infringements are clearly defined and that the range of available sanctions be extended and that that dismissal of a prosecutor is only possible for the most serious cases of misconduct.
The lack of implementation is due to the reform being in its early stages, according to GRECO.
Local authorities have pledged that the new draft should be passed in October 2018. GRECO welcomes the fact that this reforms has been included in the package of reform priorities. ba/14:13
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