The President of the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO), Marin Mrčela, today made the following statement to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day:
“As promising news about vaccines to prevent COVID-19 reach us, I call on all GRECO member states to ensure that transparency and accountability are embedded in their public health policies and that integrity is central to any recovery effort. Corruption must have no place in the health sector. Conflicts of interest must be avoided. Procurement actions must be carried out with integrity, credibility and transparency.
As governments react to the emergency situations created by the pandemic with concentration of power, derogations of rights and freedoms, and the infusion of large amounts of money into the economy to alleviate the crisis, corruption risks should not be underestimated.
The detailed Guidelines issued in April this year to prevent corruption risks in this pandemic should be closely followed in all member states. These guidelines can be an effective tool to prevent corrupt practices in the public or the private sectors, be they related to the procurement system, bribery in medical-related services, corruption in new product research and development (R&D), including conflicts of interest and the role of lobbying, or COVID-19-related fraud related to the marketing of counterfeit medical products.
Taking advantage of or jeopardizing people’s health for illegal personal gains is tantamount to threating our lives and it is simply unacceptable. The right to life is at stake.
In this context, senior political leaders must lead by example, even more so in times of crisis. In a number of our member states – both in Europe and in the United States – this has not always been the case. Attacking the judiciary and law enforcement or using them for partisan political purposes, silencing or harassing journalists or anyone who has a different view, vowing to replace or undermine institutions politicians disagree with, discrediting whistle-blowers or not providing them the protection they should enjoy, ignoring the most basic rules of ethics and, at times, of decency, spreading “fake news”, are all examples of situations we have witnessed all too often in 2020.
GRECO’s 5th evaluation round – which focuses on preventing corruption in central governments, including the top executive functions, and in law enforcement - will be key in reminding GRECO´s 50 member states of their commitments and highlighting the best course of action in many of these areas. We need governments to act in line with the standards that have united us for the past 70 years.”
On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day GRECO launched its Twitter account @coeGreco
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The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) is a Council of Europe body that aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with anti-corruption standards. It helps states to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. Currently it comprises the 47 Council of Europe member states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the United States of America.
Jaime Rodriguez, Spokesperson/Media officer, Tel. +33 6 89 99 50 42
- Link to the Press release