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MPs keen to make police corruption bill water tight

Concerns were raised in parliament on Wednesday over the legitimacy of certain provisions included in a bill regulating the operation of an internal affairs department within the police.

The draft is part of a raft of bills submitted by the government in a bid to stamp out corruption on the force.

Discussion of its articles started in the House legal affairs committee on Wednesday with main opposition Akel expressing concerns over certain issues, some of which Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou dismissed as phobias.

One of the issues raised was a provision essentially permitting entry into a police officer’s home without a warrant. The wording used – roughly translated as place — could be interpreted as house.

Nicolaou said the same article was included in the criminal procedure law and had been okayed by the Legal Service.

“We haven’t put together a law that has constitutional problems,” the justice minister said.

Nicolaou suggested it was more about differing philosophies, stressing that effective powers must be afforded if the authorities want to be effective against corruption.

The minister added that he was prepared to discuss the matter.

Nicolaou, however, said there was a phobia concerning anonymous complaints, adding that it was a practice in force today.

He told MPs that those making false or misleading complaints or reports could face criminal prosecution carrying a maximum five years in jail and or a fine of up to €100,000.

There was also a special provision for reports against the chief and the deputy chief of police. This states that the president must be informed of the complaint and the results of the probe.

In such a case the attorney-general would appoint a criminal investigator.

The police internal affairs department will be under the chief of police and supervised by the attorney-general.

Akel MP Aristos Damianou said constitutional issues that have to be examined were spotted from the start of the discussion.

“We note with satisfaction that the ministry and the minister appeared willing to review certain provisions included in the bill in a bid to provide the weapons to stamp out the phenomenon on one hand, and not violating the constitutionally established rights and freedoms of the police force and the public in general,” Damianou said.

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