Czech Republic urged to step up efforts to combat corruption

The Council of Europe anti-corruption body GRECO yesterday urged the Czech Republic to accelerate the pace of ongoing reforms aimed at preventing and combatting corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.

Beautiful Prague... but the Czech Republic does not respect some basic democratic European rules... Foto: Uoaei1 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0int

(PR / CoE / Red) – In a follow up report issued yesterday evaluating the implementation of its recommendations to the country in its 2016 Fourth Evaluation Round Report, GRECO concludes that the Czech Republic´s low level of compliance is “globally unsatisfactory”. The Czech Republic has only fully implemented one of the 14 recommendations, whilst it has partly implemented seven and six that remain non implemented.

GRECO welcomes the modernization of the system for the declaration of interests, income and assets of parliamentarians and the strengthening of supervision in this area but regrets that no measures have been taken to increase the transparency of the legislative process. The Parliament has not yet adopted a draft law regulating lobbying submitted by the Government, nor a code of conduct for parliamentarians, although some legislative measures are under way to allow the two Chambers to enact such a code.

As regards judges, the Czech Republic has made some improvements in the recruitment and promotion of judges and further legislative amendments are being examined by the Government to establish a system of recruitment of judges and selection of court presidents based on precise and objective criteria. However, a code of conduct has not yet been adopted and no measures have been taken to monitor judges’ compliance with the restrictions on the exercise of their secondary activities.

GRECO also regrets that the Czech authorities have made no progress in introducing the possibility for judges and prosecutors to challenge disciplinary decisions, including dismissal, before a court.

With regard to prosecutors, GRECO welcomes the adoption of a Code of Ethics, applicable to all public prosecutors. The Code has been complemented with a detailed Commentary by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, containing practical guidance for the implementation of the Code of Ethics and training. Another positive step is that the Act on Conflicts of Interest was amended to improve prosecutors’ reporting obligations on their secondary activities, although more detailed rules should be adopted.

Finally, the report highlights that the Agreement on the Selection and Career Progress of Public Prosecutors with the Ministry of Justice has allowed to establish rules and criteria regarding the appointment, transfer and promotion of prosecutors. However, GRECO regrets that the Agreement contains no regulations on the removal of prosecutors from office and offers no possibility to appeal against recruitment or promotion decisions before a court.

GRECO has requested the Czech authorities to report on the progress in implementing the pending recommendations by 31 December 2020. And here is the million-euro-question – if the Council of Europe wasn’t supervising the compliance with basic democratic rules in Europe, who would?

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