Strasbourg, 27.05.2013 - Corruption remains a major problem in Europe, posing a serious threat to the rule of law, according to the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee.
In a draft resolution approved today in Izmir, the committee said corruption in the public sector took many forms: ministers who abuse their powers, police or other officials who take bribes, elections that are "bought", crooked judges, money laundering, parliamentarians claiming false expenses, and illegal lobbying.
Corruption is a problem for all countries, pointed out the rapporteur on the subject, Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE), adding that: "Transparency International's 2012 index of perceived corruption places five Council of Europe member states, namely Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine, below hundredth place out of 174 countries. This is most worrying”. Corruption is "a scourge that must be eradicated,” she said.
Corruption subverts public institutions, undermines the law and saps citizens' trust in their governments. It also, according to the committee, has a devastating effect on human rights.
States should enact sharper laws against corruption and push for greater transparency in the financial sector, assisting each other to follow "money trails" and going after banks who hide or launder dirty money. Judges should be appointed and promoted transparently, and be subject to non-political disciplinary measures. There should be sound rules on declaring interests, strict codes of conduct for public officials and better regulation of lobbying.
Meanwhile, parliaments could do more to scrutinise how far governments implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe's anti-corruption bodies GRECO and MONEYVAL.