TIS: In fight against corruption, Slovakia continues to stagnate

The corruption watchdog says that by 2020, the country may even be ranked among the four worst EU member states.

The June 5 anti-corruption march in Bratislava(Source: SME)

For the third consecutive year, Slovakia has been stagnating in its fight against corruption. According to the global corruption chart, the Corruption Perceptions Index of the Transparency International watchdog, the country ranked 54th in 2017, just like the year before. Slovakia scored 50 points out of 100, one point less than the last two years and the same as 2014, the Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) wrote in its press release on February 21.

How did Slovakia score

Thus, the country has been included among one-third of all those reviewed where the year-on-year score deteriorated. If it continues stagnating at the pace it did in the past three years and if Romania, Greece and Italy improve by their current respective pace by 2020, Slovakia will rank among the four worst members of the European Union in the fight against corruption.

In central Europe, Hungary worsened the most (to place 66), while Poland ended 36th and the Czech Republic 42nd.

The activities of state institutions in the past period confirm stagnation and Slovakia's ambiguous approach to fighting corruption.

While two high-ranking public officials were sentenced last October for corruption (after ten years of investigation and prosecution), none of those who ordered the botched tender have been prosecuted.

Read also:Why did we have to wait ten years for the verdict in the bulletin-board case?

The number of people sentenced for corruption declined in the past two years, and 94 percent of successful cases involved rank-and-filers who received only conditional sentences, TIS wrote.

Almost one half of the completed cases include bribes of up to €100.

The law on protecting whistleblowers has been improved but in practice, no real consequences were drawn at the Foreign Ministry concerning the Slovak presidency in the Council of EU, despite the results of a Supreme Audit Office’s audit.

Ups and down of the current power

A new anti-corruption department has been established at the Government Office but, on the other hand, in the case of questionable subsidies at the Education Ministry, only (ex) minister Peter Plavčan was held responsible.

Read also:Crisis ends in Danko’s defeat

Moreover, the cabinet undermines the independence of audit offices by continuing party nominations, and it pushed through controversial and politically-affiliated candidates to the Supreme Court.

Read also:Police recommend that Bašternák faces charges

On one hand, President Andrej Kiska appealed to the cabinet, specifically to the Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák to make police more independent and to make officers responsible for failed cases, including the infamous Bašternák case in which police proposed to press charges at the beginning of 2018. On the other hand, Kiska himself was not able to explain circumstances surrounding tax cut attempts his company received through which he partially finances his campaign.

Read also:Kiska regrets tax discrepancies, Fico accuses him of influencing police

This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index highlights that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risk their lives every day in an effort to speak out, TIS wrote in its report for 2017.

What is the Index about

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43. Unfortunately, compared to recent years, this poor performance is nothing new.

This year, the best performing region was western Europe with an average score of 66, while the worst performing regions were Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34), the watchdog reported.

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