‘Public opinion is convinced that everybody is guilty’ says AG
A BILL defining and extending the offences for which even the President of the Republic could be prosecuted is before the Legal Service and will be debated until May 22 with a view to finalising it by June, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said during the presentation of the national anti-corruption strategy on Friday.
Also present at the event were senior officials, with Attorney-general Costas Clerides saying that due to a surge in corruption cases, public opinion is convinced that everybody is guilty unless proven otherwise.
Commenting on the promoted framework for preventing and fighting corruption Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said that the new and independent Anti-Corruption Authority would have executive powers, but that these should be limited to coordinating the actions of the agencies and institutions involved.
Among the proposed actions to tackle corruption is the confiscation of revenues from illegal acts.
“We have not implemented most of the recommendations on the fight against corruption that have been determined by international conventions which have been ratified by the Republic of Cyprus,” the justice minister warned. He added there are ample provisions to fight corruption within 24 laws, but there is a need for a uniform legislation. He added that the government’s intention is to implement zero tolerance when fighting corruption with at all levels.
Next week, Nicolaou said he has planned to have a meeting with his Australian counterpart, a person he says comes from a country which has experience in implementing measures and practices to prevent and fight corruption.
According to the minister, when it comes to corruption, the most vulnerable sectors of the public service and the private sector have now been identified.
Inter alia, he urged the House and the competent parliamentary committees to scrutinise the bills to fight corruption at extraordinary sessions and said he was ready to attend sessions even on Sundays after church.
Where corruption in the police force is concerned, Nicolaou said the biggest problem was that some people are aware of matters or information but are not willing to talk.
Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou said that we first have to admit that there is a serious problem with corruption, which goes half way towards solving the problem. Much remains to be done, and departments and organisations should work on clearing up their own house, he concluded.
Also present were Prisons Director Anna Aristotelous, MPs, party representatives, independent officials and senior public servants.