Poor coordination and lack of political will hinder Portugal’s anti-corruption efforts
National Integrity System survey makes clear recommendations to improve the effectiveness of prevention and repression policies
Poor coordination between various agencies, lack of specialized judicial enforcement authorities and a lack of political will to adopt a coherent strategy against corruption are the main flaws in Portugal's anti-corruption efforts, according to a National Integrity System assessment presented on Monday by Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica (TIAC), the Portuguese affiliate of anti-corruption organisation Transparency International, in association with the Portuguese think thank INTELI and the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (ICS-UL).
The National Integrity System (NIS) survey conducted a complete assessment of the country's strengths and weaknesses in the fight against corruption. «The results show there's a big gap between the legal infrastructure that's in place and the way institutions conduct themselves in practice. The legal mechanisms are generally satisfactory, but the authorities' effectiveness is hindered by the lack of a comprehensive and coherent prevention and enforcement strategy. The urgency of fighting corruption has made its way to the political discourse, but our leaders are not backing their words with action», says Luís de Sousa, Lead Researcher of the NIS survey and President of the Board of TIAC.
Results also point out the corruption risks associated with the austerity policies currently being implemented as a result of Portugal's bailout by the EU and the IMF. «Measures such as privatizations, the renegotiation of Public-Private Partnerships or the restructuring of the Defence sector should be absolutely transparent. Sadly, the rush with which these policies are being undertaken can hide very shady deals. Likewise, budget cuts in the Justice sector and in Public Administration weaken fundamental pillars of Portuguese society and may make public officials, judges and magistrates more susceptible to pressures or bribes», Luís de Sousa says.
More than just a diagnosis, the NIS survey makes a set of clear and practical recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the fight against corruption in Portugal. These include adopting a stronger system to monitor politicians' personal wealth and conflicts of interest; introducing measures to reduce the influence of political appointees in Public Administration; strengthening cooperation between prevention and investigation authorities; improving the scope and quality of public information made available and creating a specialized agency to combat corruption, with broad powers and independence. «It's not enough to just point fingers. Civil society has a responsibility to present specific measures that get to the heart of the problems. What the National Integrity System survey gives us is a road map for change, so we can make a positive impact in Portugal's anti-corruption abilities. This survey is only the first step in a larger work of advocacy and public pressure that begins today», says Luís de Sousa.
The National Integrity System Survey takes an in-depth look at thirteen institutions and sectors that contribute to Portugal’s anti-corruption framework: anti-corruption agencies, business, civil society, courts, electoral management body, government, media, the ombudsman, parliament, political parties, public administration, the public prosecutor’s office and criminal investigation bodies, and the supreme audit court. NIS researchers interviewed dozens of specialists and anti-corruption agents and analysed nearly 150 performance indicators relating to the work of these thirteen pillars.
Note to editors: Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica is the Portuguese affiliate of the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption and promoting transparency. The National Integrity System assessment has been carried out between April 2011 and March 2012, within the framework of the European National Integrity System Project, which is being implemented in 25 European countries. The project has been implemented with the support of European Commission.
You can accessthe full report in Portuguese here.
Download the executive summary (in English).
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João Paulo Batalha
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T: +351 918 480 746