Major shortcomings in Azerbaijan’s legislation on corruption and transparency in party funding have been uncovered by a new Council of Europe report.
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) Third Round Evaluation Report on Azerbaijan, published on 18 November, found that the country’s legal framework contains several important deficiencies in relation to the requirements established under the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.
For example, the concept of “official” used by the relevant bribery provisions does not cover all civil servants and public employees. The offer and the promise of a bribe as well as the acceptance of an offer or a promise do not constitute completed crimes.
According to the GRECO report, the bribery of foreign and international officials, domestic and foreign jurors and arbitrators, as well as bribery in the private sector and trading in influence are not fully addressed by the country’s legislation.
The report “regrets” that Azerbaijan is one of the member States to have entered nearly the maximum number of reservations allowed under the Convention. It urges Azerbaijan to become a Party to the Additional Protocol to the Convention. Above all, Azerbaijan should be more proactive in detecting, investigating and prosecuting corruption cases.
The GRECO report stresses that the transparency standards established by Recommendation Rec(2003)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Common Rules against Corruption in the Funding of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns are difficult to apply to a country which lacks a truly pluralistic party landscape, where most political parties are not active between elections and no political party except for the ruling party has significant resources.
The GRECO report highlights the insufficient transparency provisions in the Law on Political Parties, the lack of supervision over party accounts, the insufficient monitoring of election campaign funding as well as the fragmentary regime of sanctions available in this area.
The report makes 17 recommendations to Azerbaijan. Compliance with these recommendations will be assessed by GRECO in 2012.