To mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, commemorated every year on 9 December, the President of the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO), Marin Mrčela, issued the following statement:
“As governments face successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and still need to react quickly, they frequently resort to extraordinary measures. Despite the exceptional situation, it is crucial that governments act in full respect of the law and base all their actions on the principles of transparency, oversight and accountability. The risks of corruption related to the pandemic remain high, particularly in the health sector and in governments’ action to tackle its economic impact. Public access to information continues to be crucial, as do effective whistle-blower protection schemes.
When it comes to countering corruption in the public or the private sectors, the Guidelines to prevent corruption risks related to the pandemic issued in the first months of the health crisis remain as relevant as at that time. Areas of particular sensitivity include the awarding of public procurement contracts, conflicts of interest and lobbying. By the end of 2021, GRECO will have adopted evaluation reports on 23 of its 50 member states concerning the prevention of corruption in central governments – including top executive functions – and law enforcement. It is essential that governments fully implement GRECO’s recommendations to prevent and fight corruption. Their key aim should be to put in place a legal and institutional framework that reduces the risk of corrupt practices before they develop and couples this with timely and fair criminal law procedures envisaging effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Throughout their work to prevent and fight corruption, member states should devote careful attention to raising awareness about the risks and cost of corruption, and to educating young people and children about the fundamental principles of integrity and accountability in public life.”