Greco: Implementation of Cypriot anti-corruption recommendations ‘all the more pressing’
18 Nov 2020

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco) called on Cyprus’ parliament to fully implement its recommendations for a code of conduct for legislators to prevent various forms of corruption, and to address issues such as conflicts of interest and lobbying.

In its second compliance report for Cyprus, published on Tuesday, Greco said full implementation of recommendations has become “all the more pressing” given recent “serious allegations of undue influence of third parties over some MPs”. This was a reference to recent allegations concerning the sale of passports through Cyprus’ citizenship through investment programme.

Of the 16 recommendations made by Greco in 2016 to Cyprus, seven have been fully implemented, six remain partly implemented and three have not been implemented, according to the compliance report.

Published with the approval of the Cypriot authorities, Greco’s second compliance report assesses measures taken by Cyprus to implement recommendations dating back to 2016 concerning corruption prevention with respect to MPs, judges and prosecutors. This report follows an initial compliance report published in 2018.

The new report on Cyprus stresses the need for a code of conduct for members of parliament to be adopted to prevent various forms of corruption, and to address issues such as conflicts of interest and lobbying. MPs’ asset declaration should be more comprehensive, and control over such declarations needs strengthening, Greco notes.

Although a movement towards simplifying and clarifying revenues and allowances received by MPs for discharging their office has been engaged, it has not been completed.

“Greco acknowledges the preparation of a draft Code of Conduct for MPs since its initial compliance report, but parliament is still examining the draft. In the meantime, several Greco recommendations for MPs concerning conflicts of interest, contacts with lobbyists, declaration of gifts, and dedicated training against corruption have yet to be implemented or remain partly implemented.”

With regard to judges, Greco welcomes the Judicial Code of Ethics as binding and enforceable on all judges, with the possibility of disciplinary proceedings in case of breach.

“This is a very positive development which follows the visit of the Greco president to Cyprus in February 2019 and constructive dialogue with the Cyprus authorities.”

Moreover, a recent amendment to the revised Judicial Practice Direction of 2019 has been introduced requiring judges to recuse themselves if a family member or a colleague or the employer or an employee or a partner of the family member appears before them.

“This will contribute to greater emphasis in the Judicial Code of Ethics on the prevention of conflicts of interest, in particular considering recent conflict of interest cases that have been brought to light.”

By Annette Chrysostomou, Cyprus Mail, 17 November 2020

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