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PRESS RELEASE - The Group of States against Corruption publishes the report on Austria
[Strasbourg, 19/12/08] The Council of Europeís Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) today published its Joint First and Second Round Evaluation Report on Austria (link to the report). The report has been made public with the agreement of the countryís authorities. These are its key conclusions.
Some interesting anti-corruption initiatives have been adopted in Austria but overall, the country is still at an early stage in the fight against corruption, with the exception of the Municipality/Land of Vienna. Various sectors of society seem exposed to risks of corruption which have not necessarily been assessed or acknowledged yet. A study of the phenomenon of corruption, and the establishment of a national coordination mechanism would provide a general framework to trigger or accompany various future improvements. In this connection, the role of the Bureau of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of the Interior (BIA) needs to be strengthened and clarified.
Overall, the Austrian police and prosecutorial bodies are perceived as not being independent enough, and sometimes suffer from a lack of staff, training opportunities and coordination mechanisms. As regards the immunity of parliamentarians, there is a need to establish criteria to better distinguish acts that are connected with their duties and those which are not. GRECO also found that insufficient attention is paid by law-enforcement agencies to the proceeds from corruption and that the legal framework for seizure and confiscation of criminal proceeds requires improvements.
There is also room for improvement as regards transparency and other preventive anti-corruption measures in the administration (concerning, for example, the legal basis for access to information, the involvement of the Austrian Court of Audit in the prevention and detection of corruption, "whistleblower" protection and the elaboration of a code of conduct for public officials). Moreover, although the recent introduction of corporate criminal liability is to be welcomed, more measures are needed to ensure the full application of this new mechanism.
GRECO has formulated 24 recommendations, in total, in the above-mentioned areas. GRECO will assess measures taken by Austria to implement these recommendations in the first half of 2010.
*Translation provided by the Austrian authorities.