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Open Letter to Jacques Barrot, Vice-President, European Commission

TI resists intimidation of Romanian anti-corruption advocate with an open letter to the European Commission

Jacques Barrot
European Commission
Responisble for Justice, Freedom and Security

Dear Mr. Barrot,

Combating corruption takes personal courage. Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, relies on the work of hundreds of courageous advocates worldwide to ensure that the lives of millions are protected from corruption. These advocates are conscientious, dedicated citizens who care about their countries and finding constructive solutions to build a better future. One such advocate, from Transparency International Romania, is currently facing difficulties and I am writing to make you aware of his situation.

Combating corruption often means confronting vested interests and thus produces challenging debates. In advocating for change, TI follows its non-partisan ethos. We not only produce expert research on the causes and effects of corruption but also serve as a partner for constructive discussions and expert debates with governments and the private sector. Such exchanges have been very productive as long as discussions and related disagreements are based on facts.

However, when the critical work of TI leads to attempts to intimidation through orchestrated defamation campaigns, we take refuge in truth and refer to facts in order to stop what in effect boils down to an abuse of power –the power to influence public debate, manipulate and misinform- as a way to counter valid analysis and criticism.

The recent media report indicating that Victor Alistar, executive director of Transparency International Romania, delayed income declarations to hide illicit gains, falls into this category. The personal attacks against Mr. Alistar appeared within the context of his and TI Romania’s involvement in activities leading to the unveiling of political abuses committed around the adoption of new legal codes and the financial interests lying behind these.

TI does not oppose the scrutinising of its advocates’ credentials. We believe our work and advocacy efforts would be severely damaged if we did not hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity. However, we have reason to believe that the accusations recently published in some Romanian media regarding Mr. Alistar are false. Each and every one of these has been validly refuted by him, supported by publicly available records and facts. The board of TI Romania has also carefully looked into the matter and supports Mr. Alistar’s position.

We therefore ask that you join us in resisting attempts to undermine the personal integrity of a civil society advocate and in that process, the broader fight against corruption. We urge the European Union and the Romanian government to guarantee a space for civil society participation and to prevent it from being constricted. We hope that you would support these efforts.

Yours sincerely,

Cobus de Swardt
Managing Director
Transpareny International

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