22 January, 2008
There are no problems in reviewing corruption cases in courts, there are probably problems to detect offence. A small number of cases come to the courts, cases of separate categories, responsibility for which in stipulated by the Criminal Law, for example, trading influence, have not been heard in the practice of the Supreme Court at all. This was one of conclusions drawn by the experts of the Anticorruption Interstate Group of the Council of Europe (GRECO – Groupe d’Etats contre la corruption) during the discussions with the judges of the Supreme Court.
The delegation of GRECO experts visit Latvia on January 21 – 25 to learn how the requirements of the Council of Europe are followed in prevention of corruptive violations of law. The representative of the GRECO Secretariat Tania Van Dijk and experts Alastair Brovn and Jaan Ginter from the Prosecutor’s Office of Scotland and the Tartu University, Faculty of Law, discussed the practice of the Supreme Court in reviewing corruption cases with the Senator Pēteris Dzalbe of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate and the Chairman of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Ivars Bičkovičs.
The main issues which the GRECO experts were interested in were related to bringing to trial for offering and accepting bribes, appropriation of bribes, demanding bribes, and what material or other benefits are regarded as a bribe, whether persons have to be held liable for corruption in private sector, and what in the understanding of the Latvian law is an official. They analyze also the stipulated sanctions paying special attention to application of seizure of property. The experts were interested in dynamics of the corruption cases in the Supreme Court since 1993 and the opinion of judges of the Supreme Court regarding obstacles and problems in reviewing such cases.
After the evaluation visit the experts will prepare an evaluation statement offering recommendations for prevention of shortcomings. The statements will be prepared on two issues related to prevention and combating corruption – criminal offences stated in the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Anticorruption, and transparency of political funding.
Within the frame of the visit the GRECO experts visit the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, Prosecutor General Office, State Revenue Service, as well as meet with representatives of the Central Elections Commission, Council of National Radio and Television, Register of Enterprises and Association of Bailiffs. The experts have planned also to meet with the representatives of political parties, public organizations and media, as well as teaching staff of higher educational establishments and scientists.
The goal of GRECO activities is to improve the capacity if its member states to combat corruption, and by mutual evaluation process and pressure of the member states to supervise the fulfillment of the undertaken obligations. A member state has to report on observation of the recommendations of the statement to the GRECO Plenary Session. GRECO experts visited Latvia in 2001 and 2004, preparing respectively the first and the second evaluation statement on the situation regarding prevention and combating corruption. Latvia joined the 1999 Treaty of the Council of Europe on establishment of GRECO in 2000. At the present moment there are 36 member states in GRECO.
Information prepared by Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Manager of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
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