Cyprus Mail

Nicolaou wants anti-corruption bills approved by House early next month

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, at police headquarters (File photo)

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Sunday that the package of bills to combat police corruption tabled at the House should be approved by the beginning of October.

“This is a package of bills that has been deposited in the House, where the debate has been completed. Members of the Legal Affairs Committee have some comments and in the coming days I will attend a committee meeting to discuss them. I believe that after this session the bills will be forwarded to parliamentary groups and plenary,” the minister said on his website.

“I hope that by the beginning of October the bills will be approved, so that the establishment of the Internal Audit Service of the police will proceed immediately.”

Nicolaou said the Chief of Police had already pledged that it would be put into operation immediately, adding that his ministry and the police brass had identified and ascertained through reports, studies and research that “indeed there is an issue of corruption that we must deal with”.

“This is a timeless problem for the police, for which the measures taken in the past seemed to be ineffective and for which this government dared to prepare a package of bills to help prevent and deal with it,” he said.

In addition, another package has been prepared for a National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which has been approved by the cabinet, and includes the police aspect. The strategy includes the state mechanisms in general, as well as the private sector.

“The effort is for all government agencies to work together to create such procedures and measures that will act as a deterrent to any attempt at corruption from wherever it comes,” said Nicolaou.

The bill that encourages whistleblowing and offers protections has also been tabled “because, as we can see from experience, only if some people are encouraged to testify, we will continue to face this phenomenon”.

Asked about the form of the Internal Audit Service and how could be effective, Nicolaou said that in the past – in 2009 – an investigatory body for corruption-related issues which, due to a lack of substantial powers, did not yield the desired results.

“As an opposition party at the time, we had warned that solid mechanisms must be created with effective powers. Unfortunately, we were not listened to at that time, and that’s why we have now set up a service that has those effective legal powers, and safeguards to enable it to operate without interference,” he added.

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