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Fighting corruption and encouraging 'political responsibility'

Marta Cartabia

The “Panama papers”, “Paradise papers”, “Laundromats”, and “Pandora papers” scandals have involved allegations that politicians used offshore schemes to evade taxes and conceal assets, raising suspicions of corruption and money laundering.

Adopting a resolution based on a report prepared by Sergiy Vlasenko (Ukraine, EPP/CD), the PACE Standing Committee said that fighting corruption, money laundering and tax-related offences was an obligation for all member States of the Council of Europe.

Any suspicion of a politician of being involved in such offences “requires a prompt response from the criminal justice system”, the parliamentarians said. Political responsibility should be also engaged in this context.

Political responsibility implies an ethical duty to bear the consequences for any breach of public trust, according to the adopted text. Where the alleged misconduct and the allegations are sufficiently serious and credible, “politicians should resign from elected public office”, the resolution underlines.

Parliaments and political parties must contribute to “preserving public trust in the democratic system”. They should take appropriate action against politicians who are credibly accused of having been involved in these or similar scandals, the text underlines.

Addressing the Standing Committee in the framework of the debate, Italian Minister of Justice Marta Cartabia highlighted that “the Council of Europe can play a central, decisive role in this work of building a mentality that is resistant to attempts at corruption, both technically and culturally. And the Italian Presidency is ready - as always - to offer its contribution.”

“Not only rules and repressive instruments are needed, but also a widespread and generalised cultural action, capable of permeating all areas of social life. Rules are important, but they can only be truly effective if they are accompanied by a cultural renewal that passes first and foremost through educational structures,” she underlined.