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The draft of the Law on Prevention of Corruption does not solve the essential problems

Transparency - Serbia (a chapter of Transparency International) estimates that the new draft of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, which should replace the current Anti-Corruption Agency Law, is worse than the one published 22 months ago. In order to solve the problems that led to changes in this law a few years ago, the TS proposed amendments to more than 30 articles, which relate to the separation of public and political functions, prosecution, the filing of property and gifts, the accumulation of functions, the authority of the Agency and the choice of its leaders.

The TS has, among other things, requested that the criminal act regarding the giving of false information on property be specified and prosecution facilitated by the abolition of the indecent "intention"; that misdemeanor prosecution is possible within five years, and not two as it now stands; that the law completely prohibits the accumulation of public functions, instead of the current regime of giving consent; that public officials are obliged to report high value gifts, even when they seem to have not been given in connection with the public function, as well as cash in excess of 10,000 Euros; that control is subject to the business of companies owned by officials with concessionaires, recipients of subsidies and companies that perform business in Serbia on the basis of interstate agreement; to specify the restrictions applicable to former officials.

We also suggested that, for the preparation of all regulations, analysis of the risk of corruption should be mandatory and that the Agency will be given the opportunity to declare their content at all stages of the preparation of regulations; that members of the Board and the Director of the Agency cannot be persons connected with political entities (e.g. as candidates in the last elections, financiers, members of election commissions), although they are not formally members; to get the Agency more efficient access to the documents it needs in its work. Transparency has also provided suggestions for preventing misuse of public function through inventing promotional activities, in order to increase the presence in the informative programme of the media during the election campaign period.

Although the need for improving the Anti-Corruption Agency Law has been noted in national strategic documents five years ago, we remind that the deadlines have expired several times (last time in December 2016). Delays, even when they occur on issues declared the priority of European integration, unfortunately, are no longer a surprise. It is astonishing, however, that the Ministry of Justice has now offered a draft that does not contain many good solutions that the ministry presented in October 2016, and that the Anti-Corruption Agency, which has made numerous argumentative remarks on the previous draft, so far did not publicly respond to the new text, which gives it less power.

Note: You can download templates of amendments and comments from the TS website (www.transparentnost.org.rs), from the TS Initiative and Analysis page (in Serbian).

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