Report: Bulgaria needs a more cohesive and systematic approach to prevent corruption

A “cohesive and systematic approach is needed in Bulgaria, if the authorities are to prevent corruption among judges, prosecutors and members of parliament.

That is the judgement of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which published today its Fourth Round Evaluation Report on the country’s capacity to fight graft.

GRECO concludes that Bulgaria has, overall, “a reasonably good legislative framework” and that many institutions and tools are in place to deter corruption.

Yet the report’s authors complain of complex regulations and the abundance of reporting instruments and oversight bodies which have “failed to bring in the desired cumulative effect or help attain qualitative changes in corruption prevention efforts.

“Scrutiny, if it is effected at all, is cursory and in the absence of any discernible results in detecting and punishing violations of the conflicts of interest and asset disclosure rules, transparency is perceived as ostensible. This has not been conducive towards boosting public confidence in the three institutions, judges being most vulnerable to public mistrust.

“In GRECO’s opinion, independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the systems of disclosure and verification of assets, ascertainment of conflicts of interest and of their impact on the prevention and detection of corruption amongst MPs, judges and prosecutors, as well as undertaking appropriate corrective action are of primordial importance.”

The GRECO report also notes that “as for the judicial system, its vulnerability to undue political interference remains significant.”

GRECO recommends that the private interests of MPs, judges and prosecutors be made subject to “substantive and regular checks.”

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The transparency and inclusivity of the law-making process must be increased and adequate timelines introduced for considering bills within the assembly, so as to secure meaningful and effective engagement by all interested parties.

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