The Council of Europe’s Group of States against corruption (GRECO) has published today its Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Bulgaria dealing with corruption prevention in respect of members of Parliament, judges and prosecutors.
GRECO concludes that Bulgaria has, overall, a reasonably good legislative framework and that many institutions and tools are in place to deter corruption. Yet the complex regulations and the abundance of reporting instruments and oversight bodies have failed to bring in the desired cumulative effect or help attain qualitative changes in corruption prevention efforts. Scrutiny, if it is effected at all, is cursory and in the absence of any discernible results in detecting and punishing violations of the conflicts of interest and asset disclosure rules, transparency is perceived as ostensible. This has not been conducive towards boosting public confidence in the three institutions, judges being most vulnerable to public mistrust.
In GRECO’s opinion, independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the systems of disclosure and verification of assets, ascertainment of conflicts of interest and of their impact on the prevention and detection of corruption amongst MPs, judges and prosecutors, as well as undertaking appropriate corrective action are of primordial importance.
GRECO also recommends that the private interests of MPs, judges and prosecutors be made subject to substantive and regular checks. With regard to MPs, the transparency and inclusivity of the law-making process must be increased and adequate timelines introduced for considering bills within the Assembly, so as to secure meaningful and effective engagement by all interested parties. As for the judicial system, its vulnerability to undue political interference remains significant. Also, since the effectiveness of enforcement of integrity standards within the judiciary has been called into question, its strengths and weaknesses and its impact on corruption prevention need to be analysed. Furthermore, implementation of the principle of random case allocation in the courts and prosecution offices has to be realised in practice and made subject to more stringent controls.