EDITORIAL

Naive property law a waste of time

THE JUSTICE Ministry proposal for a law requiring declaration of source of assets is an example of complete naivety and incompetence. If by some miracle this law were passed, it would have the opposite effect to that intended.
However, the law's only support is likely to come from members of the Communist Party whose MPs would have little to fear from the law and will certainly be pleased to see echoes of their beloved former communist state: The law encourages neighbour to inform on neighbour.
Of course, opposition Smer might also support it if the party is certain that the law has no chance of being passed - that way they can show their support for the fight against corruption without needing to worry about anyone taking too close a look at some of their members' assets.

THE JUSTICE Ministry proposal for a law requiring declaration of source of assets is an example of complete naivety and incompetence. If by some miracle this law were passed, it would have the opposite effect to that intended.

However, the law's only support is likely to come from members of the Communist Party whose MPs would have little to fear from the law and will certainly be pleased to see echoes of their beloved former communist state: The law encourages neighbour to inform on neighbour.

Of course, opposition Smer might also support it if the party is certain that the law has no chance of being passed - that way they can show their support for the fight against corruption without needing to worry about anyone taking too close a look at some of their members' assets.

However, it may not get that far. The current proposal has enough holes that even the cabinet should be able to sink it gracefully.

For one, the proposal neatly does away with the idea of innocent until proven guilty. Suspects will have their assets frozen until such time that they can prove to the courts that they have gained the money legally.

In some legal systems this might have worked but unfortunately the Slovak system is so riddled with corruption that he who pays, wins. All any of the court cases would do is encourage the spreading of ill-gotten gains amongst corrupt officials.

Those accused who are innocent, and there would be many as scores are settled between personal and business rivals, would find it difficult to have their assets restored without stooping to illegal means in the country's courts.

But the bill will never get that far. Does the Justice Ministry really believe that this well-meaning but misguided law has even the slightest chance of making it through the quagmire of self-interest and corruption that is the Slovak parliament?

Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic says it is a "milestone" law. He will soon find out that it is, instead, a "millstone" law.

Besides, Slovakia's problem is not a lack of laws to fight corruption - what is missing is the will to enforce them.

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