Iceland Must Do More to Fight Corruption

Vala Hafstað

Iceland needs to do more to fight corruption and put increased emphasis on promoting the integrity of those entrusted with top executive functions and that of people in law enforcement. This is the conclusion of a report written by GRECO, the Group of States Against Corruption.

Today, GRECO made public its Compliance Report of Fifth Evaluation Round on Iceland on preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies.

GRECO notes that Iceland has satisfactorily implemented only four out of 18 recommendations made by GRECO. Seven of the recommendations have been partly implemented, and seven have not been implemented.

Further progress, the report states, is necessary to demonstrate an acceptable level of compliance with the recommendations within the next 18 months.

Regarding persons entrusted with top executive functions (PTEFs), the report states:

“GRECO appreciates that as a follow-up to [the Fifth Round Evaluation R]eport, the Government elaborated a bill which has now become the Law on measures to deal with conflicts of interest of PTEFs, covering Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and ministerial advisers.

The Act regulates inter alia contacts with lobbyists, outside activities, asset declarations, gifts and post-employment restrictions. While rules on post-employment restrictions have been introduced, GRECO finds them rather weak, in particular the scope and length of the cooling off period.

GRECO regrets that no progress has been made in addressing discrepancies between the codes of conduct applicable to PTEFs and on providing guidance and confidential counselling to PTEFs. Finally, efficient and regular awareness-raising mechanisms on integrity for PTEFs are still to be put in place.”

“As for Law enforcement agencies (LEAs), work is in progress, but with limited tangible results so far… Appropriate resources remain to be effectively allocated, including for integrity-related activities. Moreover, the chain of command will have to be reviewed and political interference limited.

Transparent and fair recruitment and career procedures remain to be put in place, strengthening the role of the Competence Assessment Committee and providing criteria for non-renewal of contracts. The lack of progress with updating the Codes of Conduct of the Police and the Coast Guard is regrettable and no initiative for the setting up of an effective mechanism of confidential counselling has been reported.

A mechanism for supervision and internal inquiries still has to be established. The new regulatory framework on parallel activities is welcomed but a similar framework to be adopted on gifts, hospitality and other benefits as well as on postemployment is still expected.

GRECO welcomes the adoption of the new Law on whistleblowers’ protection but specific measures for its implementation in practice will also be needed… In view of the above, GRECO notes that further progress is necessary to demonstrate an acceptable level of compliance with the recommendations within the next 18 months.”

You can read the full report here.

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