The appointment of the new members of the Anti-Corruption Commission is far behind

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When it comes to the appointment of the rest of the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the members of parliament are in a dilemma – whether to do it following the existing model or wait for the law to be completely amended. But that seems to be just the tip of the iceberg, because solving this issue is like solving the Rubik’s cube

 

When it comes to the appointment of the rest of the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the members of parliament are in a dilemma – whether to do it following the existing model or wait for the law to be completely amended. But that seems to be just the tip of the iceberg, because solving this issue is like solving the Rubik’s cube

 

Author: Ljubomir Kostovski

 

Not only in shopping malls, the New Year has also brought mayhem into the session of the Committee on Election and Appointment Issues in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia. One of the hot topics is the appointment of the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission (State Commission for Prevention of Corruption – SCPC), which wasn’t discussed because the coalition partners couldn’t reach an agreement. There was an open competition for election of new members, there were candidates but that particular item was at the far end of the agenda due to the many baffled gazes wandering the hall number 4 of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia on 18 December where the said Committee usually holds its sessions. The explanation that ensued was that the coalition partners hadn’t been able to agree upon the members of this body.

The decision for calling the election of members of the Anti-Corruption Commission was made on the 60th session of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia in compliance with the existing law, as proposed by VMRO-DPMNE. Following the public’s pressure, most of the previous members stepped down this Spring (let us remind – they did so due to the indemnification of work-related costs), therefore, in order to have elections in the future that are fair to the greatest extent possible we need this oversight body, indispensably!

 

THE EXISTING OR THE NEW LAW – WHICH ONE GOVERNS THE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

Although SDSM do not admit that the Anti-Corruption Commission must be constituted if elections were to take place, the unofficial information is that they are not familiar with the list of candidate members that have applied to the open competition and decision will be made after they take a look at the list itself.

Truth is, the chances for passing the new Law on Prevention of Corruption before the presidential elections are called (February 2019) are small. In fact, the new regulation on prevention of corruption, according to which there will be different and stricter rules for electing members of the Anti-Corruption Commission, is still in early stages in the Parliament – in times when the Parliament has other important obligations such as passing the amendments to the Constitution and the budget for next year. On the other hand, the presidential elections are supposed to be called in early February and that’s when the deadline for implementing electoral activities begins, therefore it would be great if the Anti-Corruption Commission is formed by then.

Hence, solutions that could intervene in the existing law and the bill are needed, so there could be a term of at least half a year or the members that will be elected now can also apply to the open competition which will be announced in accordance with the new regulation.

The new law is in the Parliament and we expect an efficient procedure so it could be passed by the end of the year and members of the Commission could be elected as soon as possible. Transparency during the election of the members of the SCPC, criteria that would separate the Anti-Corruption Commission from politics as well as independence, professionalism and dedication to true fight against corruption are just some of the novelties foreseen by the bill on prevention of corruption and conflict of interest – said SDSM’s spokesman, Kostadin Kostadinov, prior to the last session of the Committee on Election and Appointment Issues.

 

EXPERTS’ VIEWPOINTS

At the moment, the Anti-Corruption Commission has only two members – Najdo Spasevski and Suzana Taskova-Adjikotareva who, for all this time, have been full-time members of the SCPC, which was prevented from functioning and making decisions.

But, what do experts say?

They insist on an open competition but with far stricter criteria – that’s the bare minimum that has to be changed when electing members of the Anti-Corruption Commission so it could function and operate properly. Candidates must face the members of parliament as well as the civil sector publicly and transparently before a member is appointed. These are some of the viewpoints of Ana Pavlova Daneva, Macedonian representative to GRECO and Misha Popovikj of the Institute for Democracy.

In my opinion, candidates ought to be elected via an open competition, but the criteria must be far stricter. Whether they will be elected by the position or opposition, that’s a matter of a political agreement. In any case, the elected candidates would be close to one of the sides, Daneva says.

Not only a hearing within the Committee, but also a hearing before the members of parliament for each and every candidate. Civil society organizations must take part in this process so that the case of Slagjana Taseva, whom the Parliament prevented from running for president of the SCPC, is not witnessed again, according to Popovikj.

Both of them have different views about the organizational structure and number of members. According to Daneva, forming an Agency with one director, who would be held responsible, is the solution, while Popovikj deems the reduction of the number of members, currently seven, an imperative.

Pursuant to the existing regulations, members of the Anti-Corruption Commission are elected with simple majority, while being a citizen of the Republic of Macedonia with completed higher education in the area of law and finance and anti-corruption, having good reputation of their office and at least eight years of experience are the sole requirements laid down in the law. The president is elected from the ranks of the members and holds the office for a year.

Transparency International – Macedonia’s Slagjana Taseva believes that the Anti-Corruption Commission should be granted access to all required databases and it should be able to submit requests to all institutions, banks included, which, in turn, would provide information on bank accounts of officeholders.

ПThe material situation check is linked to the conflict of interest check, since officeholders do not report the interests including the ownership of companies that later appear in various procedures, Taseva said.

In her keynote speech at one of the debates concerning this issue, Ilina Mangova, director of the International Republican Institute (IRI) emphasized that political will is needed in order to have a successful fight against corruption. The conditioned EU access, as she put it, has proven a key factor when it comes to the progress of this process and, she added, the human factor and public play a very important role here.

 

WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT THINK?

Transparency during the election of the members of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC), criteria that would separate the SCPC from politics are just some of the novelties foreseen by the bill on prevention of corruption and conflict of interest.

One of the criteria for a person to be elected member or president of the Anti-Corruption Commission is that person should not have held a political office in the Government, the Parliament and should not have donated to any political party in the past 10 years, said the Minister of justice Renata Deskoska, who also added that those persons should not have close ties with political parties.

It’s clear that all opinions on the looks and manner of operation of this Commission came to nothing and are not topical. No matter how you look at it, the parties are fine with selecting the members of this body. That’s why the Law on Media is filibustered by more than a hundred amendments of the opposition, thus the place of the ones “of the old school” at the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (AAAMS) is preserved. Members of the State Election Commission (SEC) were elected according to the old law (to which the opposition agreed immediately) and it seems that the inertia came to a halt by the fact that the resignation of most of the current members of the Anti-Corruption Commission averted the same thing from happening when it comes to solving personnel issues of this body.

 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.