Deskoska: Anti-corruption commission must be separated from politics

Introduction of a transparent procedure to elect members of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) and establishment of criteria securing that the SCPC is separated from politics are some of the novelties included in a draft-law on prevention of corruption and conflict of interest.

“One of the criteria to elect a member or a chairman of the anti-corruption commission is that they held no political office in the government, in Parliament and that they haven’t donated money to political parties in the past 10 years,” Minister of Justice Renata Deskoska told reporters on Monday before a debate on the draft-law.

“Candidates should also have no close connections to political parties. The criteria also include experience in discovering and preventing corruption, professional experience, however the election procedure is a guarantee itself,” she stated.

An alternative in the law’s text foresees a transparent procedure in Parliament for the election of SCPC members.

“Associations of journalists and non-governmental organizations working in the sphere of anti-corruption will have the chance to nominate representatives to interview candidates vying to become members of the anti-corruption commission,” Deskoska elaborated saying the move aimed at making the procedure transparent for the public to have an insight into the people nominated for the post.

The bill also contains provisions strengthening the powers of SCPC members to have a better access to bank accounts of office holders as regards their assets.

“The document also envisages enhanced financing of the anti-corruption commission in order to do its job,” the Minister said.

As regards the financing of election campaigns, Deskoska said, the draft-law contains deadlines that have to be met by the Commission throughout an election campaign and to report about possible irregularities in the financing of an election campaign by a political party of a campaign organizer.

The draft-law, which is being debated, brings together both the law on prevention against corruption and the law on conflict of interest. According to Deskoska, the new draft-law meets the recommendations of GRECO, the European Commisson, the Priebe Report and his team of senior experts and that of the ODIHR considering the financing of election campaigns.

“I hope that the draft-law will be forwarded to Parliament right after the referendum and that all procedures will be effective enough to result in the election of members of the anti-corruption commission by the end of October,” Minister Deskoska told reporters.

According to Slagjana Taseva of Transparency International, the SCPC has to have access to all necessary data bases and to be able to file requests to all institutions, including banks, to provide the commission with information about bank accounts of office holders.

“Looking into someone’s assets is linked to conflict of interest, because office holders do not report interests, including company ownership, which sometimes can pop up in various procedures,” stated Taseva.

Ilina Mangova, Program Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI), said that political will was necessary to fight against corruption.

Speaking at the debate’s opening, she said that EU accession, the human factor as well as the public played an important role in improving the process.

Representatives of institutions, associations and foundations, chambers of commerce, trade union and the academic community take part in the public debate on the draft-law on the prevention of corruption and conflict of interest, organized by the Ministry of Justice and the International Republican Institute.