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Resistance to corruption in South-East Europe study: One in three judicial system practitioners are aware of attempts to influence decisions 

Joi, 3 iunie 2010, 16:04 English | Regional Europe

In South-European countries, one in three penal judicial system professionals are aware of situations where there has been an attempt to influence the decision-making process. 33% of the cases are mainly direct cases. These are the conclusions of a Transparency International Romania study entitled "Integrity and Resistance of the Law Enforcement Bodies in South East European Countries". According to the study, the random distribution of cases is recognised as an efficient means to prevent political pressures and to offer the necessary safety to those working with high level corruption cases.

The study presents the situation in nine South-East European countries: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Ex-republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. The study is based on a questionnaire filled in by judicial system staff. Most of them consider that the penal judicial system is negatively influenced by the legislative instability, low incomes and mass-media pressure. Additionally, one in three professionals in the penal judicial system say they are aware of situations where decisions have been subjected to direct and deliberate influence attempts.

Most judges, prosecutors and Romanian policemen see the current salary level as inadequate to insure their independence.

In Romania, most judges, prosecutors and police officers regard the judicial system as independent. Only 12% of the judges, 16% of the prosecutors and 19% of the police officers consider that the system is not at all independent, or to a very little extent. Plus, 64% of the judges, 79% of the prosecutors and 81% of the police officers say that they didn't encounter situations where the Government influenced their decisions.

The Government's influence is perceived as indirect, through a constant change of legislative measures and through reduced funds for the judicial system. 24% of the judges, 26% of the prosecutors and 14% of the police officers do not believe the current legislative framework secures their independence. As for their judicial status, 40% of the judges, 57% of the prosecutors and 51% of the police officers agree that this offers guarantees when it comes to their independence from political powers. At a national level, the Government is seen by 64% of the professionals to be more influential than the penal judicial system. The same percentage was recorded regarding the President's position.

As for the influence of the pressure mass-media puts on the judicial system, most interviewees consider that is very high and only 4% of the judges, 8% of the prosecutors and 2% of the police officers claim this is reduced. 79% of the judicial staff say that mass-media has a negative impact on the penal judicial system in Romania.

  • Almost all interviewed judges, prosecutors and police officers consider that the legislative instability affects the judicial system, namely 100% percent of the judges, 97% of the prosecutors and 93% of the police officers.
  • Plus, 82% of the judicial employees do not agree with the fact that the current level of incomes is adequate in order to insure their independence. 56% of he judges, 64% of the prosecutors and 49%% of the police officers do not believe the system bears objectivity when it comes to hiring for high roles.

In terms of the protection for the system's employees handling high-level corruption, 76%of the judges, 53% of the prosecutors and 43% of the police officers think is not sufficient.

Additionally, 79% of the Romanian practitioners perceive corruption as a shared feature in South-East Europe. The level of practitioners' awareness of international anti-corruption standards and good practices is perceived as medium-high by 53% of the judges, prosecutors and police officers.

The press is seen to have a negative influence in the important corruption cases.

From the perspective of the standards entailed by the study, the judicial practitioners consider that the legislative instability is one of the causes for corruption. Where the legislative framework is stable, there are problems related to regulations. According to the study, the mere inclusion of international standards is not enough to secure their enforcement. Another issue indicated by judicial practitioners is the reduced finance. The low income level can influence the independence of judges, prosecutors and police officers.

  • The study quotes interviewees to say the press is being used by politicians as a pressure instrument to influence institutions representatives handling important corruption cases. Judges, prosecutors and police officers also accuse the fact that confidential information leaks occur in the press during ongoing investigations. One of the negative impacts mass-media has is to create a false perception in the eyes of the public opinion in certain high-corruption cases, the analysis goes on. 73% of the judges, 61% of the prosecutors and 61% of the police officers consider that the press influences the judicial system in a negative way.

On a regional level, the study indicates that the penal judicial systems are usually considered to be somewhat independent. Only 11% of the judicial professionals see it little independent or lacking any independence. 60%of the judges, 53% of the prosecutors and 47% of the police officers consider the penal judicial systems where they work totally or highly independent.

As it is, many judicial professionals (41%) claim they were not subjected to pressures within the last 12 months. Similar answers were given when asked on political pressures when it comes to naming a judge, prosecutor or police officer: 75% of the judges, 73% of the prosecutors and 59% of the police officers said were not aware of such situations.

Nevertheless, almost one in three penal judicial systems' practitioners (29%) state they are aware of the situations when decisions were subjected to deliberate and direct attempts of influence. 33% professionals met with the situations when there have been attempts to influence the decision-making process - 30%of the interviewed judges, 31% of the prosecutors and 37% of the police officers.























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