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The Netherlands needs to enhance measures to preserve integrity in the government and in the police

Strasbourg 22/02/2019
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The Netherlands needs to enhance measures to preserve integrity in the government and in the police

In an evaluation report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) called for measures to prevent corruption in the Netherlands in respect of persons entrusted with top executive functions, including ministers, state secretaries, political advisors; and in respect of members of law enforcement agencies: the National Police and the Royal Marechaussee.

GRECO notes that the integrity of the government in the country is largely built on a high degree of political accountability, trust and consensus. This approach needs to be complemented by a clear cut (integrity) strategy in respect of ministers, state secretaries and, as appropriate, of political assistants or advisors, based on a risk analysis to better prevent conflicts of interest and potential corruption.

GRECO recommends that a code of conduct should be established for top executive officials along with measures for its implementation and enforcement. Moreover, GRECO considers as particularly important to introduce rules for lobbying and post-employment functions.

Furthermore, top executives should be required to report situations of conflicts of interest as they occur (ad hoc) and they should be obliged to declare personal assets at regular intervals for transparency and public scrutiny.

GRECO acknowledges a strong commitment to integrity matters within the police services, which generally enjoy a high degree of national public trust. Nevertheless, Dutch Police has not been spared from integrity violations: leaking of information and connections with organised crime groups, for example, have been subject of considerable media attention.

Finally, GRECO recommends enhancing the existing codes of conduct of both law enforcement services and their training systems. Further efforts are also required to secure the use of confidential information. Regular enforced vetting of police staff while in service is required as well as a system of declaration of financial interests among officials holding particularly sensitive posts. The report also stresses the obligation upon police officers to report various forms of corruption related misconduct within the service, and not just criminal offences in general.

The implementation of the 16 recommendations addressed to the Netherlands will be assessed by GRECO in 2020 through its compliance procedure.