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Greece: Anti-corruption experts urge new rules on MPs acceptance of gifts and lobbyist contacts

A new report by anti-corruption experts urges Greece to introduce strict rules governing parliamentarians’ acceptance of gifts and their contacts with lobbyists.

According to the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), such rules do not yet exist, as Greece is at an “early stage of integrity policies for parliamentarians.”

The GRECO report stresses that corruption contributed to Greece’s financial crisis. It points to allegations of legislative and institutional manipulation exempting authors of illegal acts from liability, which were made possible by “an opaque legislative process.”

The report’s authors are hopeful that an anti-corruption strategy and action plan – adopted in 2013-2014 – will bring about “desirable changes.”

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland stressed that the report “illustrates cooperation between Greece and the Council of Europe, to reduce corruption as one of the root causes of the ongoing economic crisis.”

Although judges and prosecutors are subject to career-related mechanisms and procedural rules which protect their integrity, Greece still needs to codify rules of conduct and to streamline general supervision over judges and prosecutors, the report notes.

Such supervision is currently performed by too many bodies composed of peers designated for a short period.

Severe backlogs in the judiciary create additional vulnerabilities. Adequate guarantees are needed against both undue delays and interventions of third parties seeking to speed up decisions.

Moreover, the justice system needs to be assessed in its overall functioning and made more accountable through periodic reporting.

Greece also needs to review the selection process and the term of tenure of most senior positions of judges and prosecutors to improve their independence from the executive.

Compliance with the 19 recommendations in the report will be assessed by GRECO in the first half of 2017.

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