Government continues to strengthen mechanisms for fighting corruption

Photo /Vijesti/2022/05 svibanj/6 svibnja/VRH_3907.jpg

The cabinet on Friday proposed amendments to the Government Act, which provide for the removal of immunity from cabinet members in cases of corruption prosecuted ex officio, and adopted a code of conduct for government officials.

"In line with the government programme, we are lifting immunity from cabinet members for crimes of corruption prosecuted ex officio. Such criminal proceedings can be launched without the government's prior approval," Justice and Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said of the bill that was sent to parliament for adoption. 

According to the present law, cabinet members enjoy immunity from prosecution for crimes carrying a sentence of up to five years.

The amendments proposed by the government are intended to strengthen the preventative anti-corruption mechanism and meet the recommendations from the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body (GRECO).

The amendments specify the powers and obligations of the government secretary-general and the status of special advisers and members of advisory councils established by the government.

They regulate who can be appointed to advisory councils and require that data relating to members of advisory councils and special advisors be made public.

Special advisors and advisory council members will have to sign a statement of interest and impartiality stating how they have to carry out their duties, Malenica said.

Code of conduct for government officials

The government also adopted a code of conduct for government officials setting out the ethical principles and rules of behaviour while in office and regulating the composition and scope of work for the supervisory committee.

The code strengthens activities to prevent unacceptable conduct, protects the public interest and strengthens the responsibility of officials while performing their duties, said Malenica.

"The Code is an added value to the already existing legal framework relating to conflict of interest prevention, freedom of information, fiscal accountability, and the fight against corruption because it strengthens the integrity of senior officials," he said.

The code lays down clear rules of conduct with regard to the declaration of interests and assets and prohibits the acceptance of gifts, rewards and honours, and contacts with third persons.

The council for the implementation of the code will be appointed by the government and will report to it once a year, he added.

The government also sent to parliament a proposal to amend the Right of Access to Information Act, which aligns it with the EU Open Data and Public Sector Information Directive.

This bill is an important instrument to ensure transparency in the work of public authorities, Malenica said.

Text: Hina