miércoles, 15 de enero de 2014

Council of Europe Report on Spain: Corruption scandals tainting credibility of political institutions

A new report on Spain reveals that the credibility of the country’s political institutions is tainted by a “proliferation of corruption scandals.”

The Council of Europe anti-corruption group (GRECO) identifies structural flaws in the justice system and calls for additional guarantees to avoid politicisation of Spain´s overburdened courts. It urges Spain’s central parliament to lead by example by putting in place a comprehensive integrity package with clear ethical standards, matched with greater transparency of MPs’ financial interests and a robust enforcement mechanism to sanction wrongdoing.

The GRECO report makes 11 recommendations to the Spanish authorities:

Regarding members of parliament
i. for each Chamber of Parliament, (i) that a code of conduct be developed and adopted with the participation of its members and be made easily accessible to the public (comprising guidance on e.g. prevention of conflicts of interest, gifts and other advantages, accessory activities and financial interests, disclosure requirements); (ii) that it be complemented by practical measures for its implementation, including through an institutionalised source of confidential counselling to provide parliamentarians with guidance and advice on ethical questions and possible conflicts of interest, as well as dedicated training activities (paragraph 35);
ii. the introduction of rules on how members of Parliament engage with lobbyists and other third parties who seek to influence the legislative process (paragraph 51);
iii. that current disclosure requirements applicable to the members of both Chambers of Parliament be reviewed in order to increase the categories and the level of detail to be reported (paragraph 56);
iv. that appropriate measures be taken to ensure effective supervision and enforcement of the existing and yet-to-be established declaration requirements and other rules of conduct of members of Parliament (paragraph 64);
Regarding judges
v. carrying out an evaluation of the legislative framework governing the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and of its effects on the real and perceived independence of this body from any undue influence, with a view to remedying any shortcomings identified (paragraph 80);
vi. that objective criteria and evaluation requirements be laid down in law for the appointment of the higher ranks of the judiciary, i.e. Presidents of Provincial Courts, High Courts of Justice, the National Court and Supreme Court judges, in order to ensure that these appointments do not cast any doubt on the independence, impartiality and transparency of this process (paragraph 89);
vii. that (i) a code of conduct for judges be adopted and made easily accessible to the public; and (ii) that it be complemented by dedicated advisory services on conflicts of interest and other integrity-related matters (paragraph 101);
viii. extending the limitation period for disciplinary procedures (paragraph 116);
Regarding prosecutors
ix. (i) reconsidering the method of selection and the term of tenure of the Prosecutor General; (ii) establishing clear requirements and procedures in law to increase transparency of communication between the Prosecutor General and the Government; (iii) exploring further ways to provide for greater autonomy in the management of the means of the prosecution services (paragraph 131);
x. that (i) a code of conduct for prosecutors be adopted and made easily accessible to the public; and (ii) that it be complemented by dedicated guidance on conflicts of interest and other integrityrelated matters (paragraph 152);
xi. developing a specific regulatory framework for disciplinary matters in the prosecution service, which is vested with appropriate guarantees of fairness and effectiveness and subject to independent and impartial review (paragraph 165).
GRECO invites the authorities of Spain to authorise, at its earliest convenience, the publication of this report, to translate the report into its national language and to make the translation publicly available.

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