Cyprus’ fight against corruption is based on three pillars, President Anastasiades said Friday, announcing the eagerly-awaited steps the government will take in a bid to restore credibility to the Republic after its reputation was shattered by revelations of corruption through the nixed Citizenship-by-Investment Program (CIP).
The three pillars of the national strategy against corruption are firstly education, awareness, and prevention, secondly legislative, structural modernization and suppressive measures, and finally monitoring, risk assessment and informing civil society.
The strategy was presented Friday alongside Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis and deputy government spokesperson Panayiotis Sentonas, and came a day after Anastasiades delivered a national address in which he rejected allegations of corruption within his office and administration.
Anastasiades said that the delay in the announcement of the measures was due to his eagerness to consult with political parties, NGOs, institutions and other bodies before the final package is presented, adding that he chaired three meetings on the matter in November and December. He said that a series of issues such as the Cyprus problem, financial problems and the pandemic also contributed to the delay.
Anastasiades said that for the fight against corruption to yield results it must see a collective effort that goes way beyond the government to also include political and legislative forces, institutions, NGOs, professional bodies, and the wider civil society.
He also referred to the need for a strong and effective institutional framework and called for respect towards institutions when carrying out their tasks. President Anastasiades also said that each one of us must demonstrate strict adherence to objectivity, impartiality and credibility.
He also spoke of the need for transparency in comprehensive investigations and added that the media should also observe the code of ethics to avoid spreading misinformation.
In terms of concrete measures, the government plans to set up a national integrity service that will be authorised to carry out real-time audit on politicians’ and politically exposed persons’ asset declarations.
Emphasis will also be placed on the education of the public and private sectors and opening lines of communication for when issues of corruption arise.
An anti-corruption and crime prosecution unit will also be set up in the Cyprus Police.
An online portal will also be set up for the publication of investigations concerning corruption, favourable treatment and entanglement of public officials.
The Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis said the country is making a huge step in the fight against corruption and noted the difficulty of the task which requires the cooperation of all institutions and all political parties if it is to be successful.
She referred to a number of reforms achieved so far though the cooperation of several Ministries. Among these are reforms that enhanced the monitoring mechanisms of the Investigative Committees, and bills that had to do with transparency in the financial assets of government officials and access to governmental documents.
She also said that an internal regulation unit has been set up in the Police while steps were also taken to fight corruption in sports. Yiolitis referred to the bill under discussion in Parliament for an Independent Unit against Corruption and to the reform of the justice sector which will see the establishment of various Courts for a quicker administration of justice and an e-justice reform.