After drawn-out debates before the House of Representatives, parliamentarians on Thursday passed a law establishing an independent Authority against corruption as well as a law regulating political lobbying.
A total of 42 members of Parliament voted in favor of the independent Authority against corruption with three deputies of the Cyprus Greens-Citizens’ Cooperation abstaining.
Cyprus is now on the list of the few European countries that have a modern and complete legislative framework against corruption which is in line with the EU and Council of Europe requirements
The five-member authority will be responsible for taking all necessary initiatives and actions to secure the effectiveness and coherence/transparency of the civil service, the wider civil service and the private sector on issues concerning the prevention and combatting of acts of corruption along the lines of current views and recommendations of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO).
An amendment proposed by Socialist EDEK deputy Costis Efstathiou was also approved which requires the removal of provisions concerning a complainant's form containing personal data.
Another amendment approved was proposed by DISY, AKEL and DIKO which calls for the authority not to undertake action if the police have already begun a criminal investigation into a matter. However, the authority may ask to be briefed by the Attorney-General on the matter.
Amendments proposed by the Cyprus Greens to add investigative powers to the Authority were rejected.
Regarding the law regulating political lobbying, 29 deputies voted in favor and three ELAM deputies were against. The law calls for the Republic of Cyprus to conform with GRECO’s recommendation regarding the prevention and combatting of corruption.
The approval of the two laws frees the first tranche of funds from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.
In a written statement on Friday, Minister of Justice and Public Order Stephie Dracos welcomed the approval of the two laws, noting that “a significant step that paves the way to restoring credibility to institutions and the political system was taken.” The two laws, together with the law on the protection of whistleblowers “is a good start which makes us optimistic”, she said.
Cyprus is now on the list of the few European countries that have a modern and complete legislative framework against corruption which is in line with the EU and Council of Europe requirements, Dracos noted.
She said the Authority will have wide investigative power to examine and evaluate information provided by citizens about possible cases of corruption and these citizens will be protected under the law passed on January 20. It will have the power to request information from any person or service, to have access to documents and receive testimonies. The refusal to provide information or provision of false information to the Authority is a criminal offense and carries a prison sentence.
All three laws, she added, constitute the legal framework that is the result of a dialogue that was held in a climate of goodwill and consensus.