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Slovakia’s anti-corruption reforms deemed insufficient

Bratislava, Slovakia – According to the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), Slovakia has failed to make significant progress in pushing through anti-corruption reforms.

In 2013, GRECO issued 16 recommendations to improve anti-corruption mechanisms and practices in Slovakia. According to its latest report, released on Tuesday, Slovakia implemented only seven of them satisfactorily, while six recommendations have been partially implemented and three of them disregarded, according to the anti-graft watchdog.

Although GRECO welcomes a certain amount of measures passed in the last few years, including the obligation for lawmakers to report gifts and benefits, it warns that the high threshold remains a cause for concern – according to the law, Slovak MP’s only have to report gifts exceeding ten times the minimum wage, roughly 5.200 euros.

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body also points out that Slovakia has failed to introduce reforms to improve the transparency of the legislative process and didn’t plan measures to report contacts between lawmakers and lobbyists or other third parties “whose intent is to sway public policy on behalf of partial interest”.

“This is particularly relevant to address inappropriate ‘behind-the-scenes’ decision-making practices”,  GRECO executive secretary Gianluca Esposito said, as well as preventing situations of conflict of interest.

GRECO said that Slovakia has until the end of the year to make more progress in the implementation of its recommendations, meant to address corruption at the highest level of government, including for lawmakers, judges and public prosecutors.

It the latest Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International, Slovakia ranked 57th, its worst score since 2013 and making it the fourth most corrupt country in the EU.

Shook by the murder of local journalist Jan Kuciak in February 2018, Slovakia has been swept by a wave of mass protests calling for “a more decent Slovakia”. The public outcry over the murder and failure to bring those responsible to justice led to the resignation of long-time Prime Minister Robert Fico and brought the fight against corruption at the forefront of public debate.

Corruption also became one of the main topics of the Slovak presidential race, which saw anti-corruption lawyer Zuzana Čaputová win the first-round by a landslide on March 16 as Slovaks turned against the ruling Smer party and its nominee Maroš Šefčovič, who came second.

Both candidates will face off on Saturday for the second round of the election.

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