Poland corruption report urges government transparency

Poland corruption report
© iStock/Velishchuk

A report published yesterday calls on Poland to promote transparency and integrity in its central government and law enforcement bodies.

The report was released by The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and is based on information gathered during in-person visits to Poland in 2018. It highlights multiple leadership changes and inadequate salaries as contributing factors to corruption among police and border officials, noting that the low wages paid to police led to difficulty recruiting “qualified and committed personnel”; and that officers in financial difficulties may seek second jobs or other additional sources of income, leading to potential conflicts of interest and “problematic third-party relations”.

The report commends the progress Poland has already made in addressing corruption, including improving transparency among lobbyists and introducing a new anti-corruption programme to run between 2018 and 2020; but identifies a number of fields which could still benefit from more effective oversight. Protocols regarding government officials receiving gifts and benefits were found to be vague, while officials tended to lack knowledge about what gifts they were and were not permitted to accept.

Persons exercising top executive functions (PTEFs) in Poland must declare any assets or interests they possess, including where these are co-owned with their spouses. However GRECO officials noted that such declarations give only a limited picture of a PTEF’s private interests if any are wholly owned by a spouse, or if the “marital property regime” changes. Senior officials who hold top executive functions are not legally held to any system of transparency.

Meanwhile, according to the corruption report, Poland’s Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CAB) does not exercise full verification of asset declarations; with only around one per cent of declarations subject to full checks. The independence of the CAB came into question, as it exists under the authority of the Polish Prime Minister and a designated “minister-coordinator for special services”.

Greco listed a number of recommendations to improve corruption oversight in Poland, including implementing systemic awareness raising for PTEFs to ensure they are fully apprised of their rights and responsibilities; and establishing an “independent review mechanism” outwith government control.

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