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New political party mulls ways to tackle corruption

THE newly-licenced political party I, The Citizen (EOP) on Wednesday released proposals to tackle corruption, which include the creation of an anti-corruption office whose officers should be able to arrest, detain and investigate anyone suspected of engaging in corruption, without a warrant, introducing a mandatory code of conduct for civil servants and instituting name-and-shame via a public corruption registry.

Though it has been referred to as a ‘Russian party’, EOP said it is a Cypriot political party. Its members are Greek Cypriots and Russian-speaking Cypriots and number around 1,000, the majority of whom are Greek Cypriots.

In a statement, the party said it was responding to the justice ministry’s recent call for a public consultation over the creation and operation of an Independent anti-corruption authority and forwarded its proposals to the justice minister in a letter.

It said an anti-corruption office should be created, which should be “completely independent and report directly to the president”.

“It should be staffed by graduates from the best universities and young professionals, particularly from the fields of law and economics,” the party said.

“They must be young people who have not yet rubbed shoulders with pockets of corruption. The president must personally appoint each member of the office for six years, with no possibility for re-appointment.”

The office, the party said, would focus on investigating complaints and claims relating to corruption, as well as negligence, involving civil servants.

“The office would have unprecedented power and authority, including the right to detain suspects and investigate acts of corruption without a warrant from court, as well as investigate their bank accounts, immovable property, tax returns, and so on,” the party proposed.

“Such checks should extend up to five years after their retirement.”

Additionally, the office should conduct investigations with regard to suspects’ relatives and their assets, question witnesses and look into any offences likely to take place in the course of investigation.

The office’s operation will be “subject to scrutiny by a public committee”, the party’s statement said, which will comprise representatives of the public with exceptional status and who have no links to the public service.

A code of conduct for civil servants should also be drafted, it added, with penalties for non-compliance, but all in conjunction with higher salaries for civil servants.

“One of the most important measures in effectively combating corruption is the increase of civil servants’ compensation, the level of which should be high enough to attract the best professionals and experts to the public service,” the party said.

“Stable and well-paid management is the key to the successful administration of the country.”

The final measure proposed by I, The Citizen was the creation of a corruption registry.

“Cyprus is a relatively small country, population around one million,” it explained.

“For a happy life in a small community, an impeccable reputation and a clean record is important. A very effective punishment for anyone convicted of corruption is their name to be added to an official registry, which must be published on the internet for everyone to see. Very few reasonable people will risk their reputation.”

 



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