UN CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION
The UN Convention against Corruption is one of the basic UN documents in this area and addresses four basic areas – preventing corruption, its criminalisation, international cooperation and the recovery of illegal profits. The Convention came into validity on 14 December 2005 following its ratification by 30 countries. At present, the convention has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 117. The Czech Republic signed the convention on 22 April 2005, but has not ratified it yet. It is thus among the last 7 EU countries that have not done so. The ratification of this convention is not merely an expression of “good will” in the area of fighting corruption, but it also demands that the signatories must implement specific measures into their legal codes. Therefore, TIC calls on the Czech government to adopt measures for the accelerated ratification of this convention.
The convention includes e.g. a requirement for stipulation of special anti-corruption bodies or ensuring the full transparency of financing election campaigns and political parties. The treaty also addresses measures to strengthen the efficiency and transparency of public administration, requires the transparent handling of public resources, and pays special attention to the area of public procurement. Not least, the convention emphasises the role of non-governmental organisations and other civic organisations in the fight against corruption. In the area of criminalisation, the convention in accordance with the TI approach criminalises a wide range of acts far exceeding mere bribery. This concerns in particular the misuse of public funds, money laundering or dealing with influence or confidential information. It also implements the important instrument of liability of legal entities, which is currently required by a number of other international law instruments. The convention also calls for the more effective protection of witnesses and reporters of corruption, who on the contrary, according to TIC’s experience, became the victims of criminalisation and bullying.
TIC considers the convention to be not only an important instrument in fighting corruption on a domestic and international scale, but also an important signal sent by the country to the international community. The fact that the Czech Republic has not ratified the convention yet also complicates its international position during the upcoming Czech presidency in the EU.
TIC is disturbed by the registered facts and truth about the background of investigations in the affair of Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek, which hare becoming public thanks to the transparent approach of the judge of the Municipal Court in Prague JUDr. Cepl, who decided in the action filed by the state prosecution headed by Renáta Vesecká against Marie Benešová. The testimony provided with witnesses in this case clearly proves the rising pressure of the executive branch and politicians in general on the judicial power.
In context with these events, TIC devotes extraordinary attention to the preparations of an amendment to the act on courts and judges and the act on disciplinary proceedings. After studying the prepared amendments and in particular the wording of the amendments approved by the constitutional law committee of the house of deputies, TIC states that the prepared legal regulations weaken the independence of judges and bring new rules that ease the possible influencing of judges by the executive power. TIC considers the following legal changes particularly fundamental:
- Extension of the objective and subjective deadlines for submission of proposals for disciplinary proceedings against judges.
- Restriction of the mandates of presiding judges and deputy presiding judges.
- Option of the justice minister repeatedly to appoint court functionaries without stipulating rules for such decisions.
- Furthermore, TIC considers it appropriate to include a certain period of prior judicial practice among the general conditions for appointing presiding or deputy presiding judges.
THERE IS AN INFLUX OF NOTICES ACCORDING TO THE ACT ON CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
Until the end of June, the act on conflict of interests imposes the obligation on public functionaries to submit three types of notices (on activity, on property, on income, donations and liabilities). Public functionaries include ministers, MPs, but also regional and municipal councillors and released representatives, managing officials at ministries and local governments and police officers. The recently adopted amendment further expands the range of obliged person, but the obligations will apply to them only from next year.
TIC wants to recall the main purpose of this act (to enable greater openness and public control) and calls on the media and active citizens to adopt a reasonable approach. “The reporting of politicians and officials should not become an opportunity for the media for the sensation-seeking creation of property charts or debt ranks. Instead, it should be an opportunity for thorough public control and the uncovering of real conflicts of interest,” states TIC director TIC David Ondráčka.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF TOPICS PRESENTED AT THE LAST TIC PRESS CONFERENCE
SUPER-CONTRACT OF THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE
TIC published on its website an open letter to the Ministry of Finance, in which it refutes the arguments in favour of granting a giant public contract for the removal of ecological damages to one company. TIC intends to monitor the course of preparations of this contract carefully.
In April, TIC filed criminal charges in the matter of potential bribery of urologists by representatives of a pharmaceutical company in the form of an offer to partake in a safari in Kenya. The police launched investigations into this case and TIC continues to monitor the affair.
At the same time, in early June TIC in a letter called on the State Drug Control Authority, the Ministry of Health and the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry to cooperate in improving the transparency and securing control over the use of post-marketing studies assigned by pharmaceutical companies to doctors.
TIC pointed out the absence of changes in the prepared amendment to the distrainment act, which would lead to the greater transparency of distrainment proceedings. In particular, there is no clear imposition of the obligation to publicise all auction announcements for the sale of real estate on the internet, and TIC calls on the Ministry of Justice to implement this obligation. “The racketeering of information about distrained real estate leads to the fact that real estate can be sold for a substantially lower price that which could be obtained in an auction published on the internet. This is detrimental not only to the obliged party, but also to the authorised entities,” says the Chairman of the TIC Administrative Board Václav Láska.
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