Conference „Corruption-free society: Perspectives from the North“

Publikováno: 30. září 2014

Representatives of selected institutions from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have come together with their colleagues from the Czech Republic for the conference „Corruption-free society: Perspectives from the North“ in order to discuss their experiences in the fight against corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures. Among other topics, the participants were considering, whether there are and which are the Nordic lessons that the Czech Republic could learn.

1. místopředsedkyně Senátu PČR Alena Gajdůšková hovoří na konferenci „Společnost bez korupce pohled ze severu“

1st Vice-Chairperson of the Czech Senate Alena Gajdůšková speaks during the conference “Corruption-free society: Perspectives from the North” | source: The Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

Vlajka České republiky

What makes us different from the Nordic countries is the actual willingness to solve the problem of corruption, as has been concluded in the Senate.

Several international rankings have been confirming for a long time that in anti-corruption efforts or in general with regard to the transparency of the public sector Nordic countries perform significantly better than other states of the world or the European Union. When comparing them to the Czech scores in a series of reports and surveys, the results for the Czech Republic look rather grim.

On 12 September 2014, the conference “Corruption-free society: Perspectives from the North” took place in the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. A number of foreign [link] and Czech [link] speakers appeared in front of the audience.

Experiences of the Nordic countries in anti-corruption efforts were presented by four speakers:

  • Head of the National Anti-corruption Unit at the Swedish Prosecution Authority Gunnar Stetler,
  • former Chair of the Board of TI Finland and director at the Confederation of Finnish Industries Pentti Mäkinen,
  • political scientist and special advisor to TI Norway Tor Dølvik and
  • Head of the International Department of the Danish Ombudsman Office Jens Olsen.

The Czech side was represented by:

  • 1st Vice-Chairperson of the Czech Senate Alena Gajdůšková,
  • Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier,
  • Higher Public Prosecutor for Prague Lenka Bradáčová,
  • Chair of the Board of TI Czech Republic Jan Spáčil,
  • President of the Liberec Region Martin Půta and
  • Deputy minister and Head of the legislation section of the government Kateřina Valachová.

As a special guest spoke the 1st Vice-Chairperson of the Slovak National Council Renáta Zmajkovičová.

The program of the conference can be downloaded here.

Radim Bureš, program director of Transparency International Czech Republic, which jointly with the Danish, Finish, Norwegian and Swedish embassies and 1st Vice-Chairperson of the Czech Senate Alena Gajdůšková organized this meeting, states: “The Czech Republic is lagging considerably behind the Nordic states in all indicators of corruption, as the uploaded statistics point out. Our objective was to answer the question, why that is. The extraordinary large interest in this seminar, which exceeded the capacity of the Senate’s Plenary Hall, shows how current and vividly discussed the topic is.”

The debate concentrated on four general topics: Legislation and law enforcement on the national level; integrity and responsible government in the private sector; transparency, responsibility and integrity on the local level and responsibility to the citizens. The most important conclusions include the following:

  • A special department of the public prosecutor’s office for the fight against corruption, as is established in Sweden, can not only be seen as a necessary specialization of public prosecutors, but also as a preventive measure. Its sole existence sends the message to the public that corruption will not be tolerated. Another important preventive measure is the criminal liability of legal persons, as the Swedish and Czech experiences unanimously confirmed.
  • The private sector poses a significant corruption threat; therefore it is necessary to pay close attention to preventive measures (compliance programs). In this area, the Czech Republic is falling greatly behind and it could look to Finland for inspiration.
  • The low level of corruption in the local and municipal administrations is not a natural phenomenon, but the resolute of a purposeful effort, as has been shown, inter alia, by the joint project of the Association of Local Administrations and TI in Norway. The research was aimed at the identification and solution of threats of corruption in Norwegian communities. Would such a project receive just as much attention from the Czech Union of towns and communities? A positive example of how to be transparent even with a low budget was presented by the President of the Liberec region.
  • The Danish Ombudsman Office fulfils its role as an independent watchdog for the quality and integrity of state institutions and is another exemplary institution that would also benefit the Czech Republic. At the same time, it serves the role of an “information Ombudsman” controlling how the public administration realized the legally guaranteed free access to information. The debate on the possible establishment of a similar monitor has been going on for years.

The seminar clearly showed that Nordic countries do not have such a low level of corruption because there were living special, corruption-immune people. Rather, those states are making a purposeful effort and are able to reach a societal consensus on that issue”, adds Radim Bureš.

The Czech Republic is lagging considerably behind the Nordic states in all indicators of corruption, as the uploaded statistics point out.