The Council of Europe’s anticorruption body GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) has issued recommendations to Finland to prevent corruption among ministers, senior government officials and members of law enforcement agencies (the police and the Border Guard).
In the country evaluation carried out by GRECO, special focus was placed for example on the ethical principles and rules of conduct, conflicts of interest, secondary employment, declarations of interests and income, compliance with guidelines in practice, and awareness of corruption and its prevention among senior government officials, ministers and law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, post-employment waiting period practices, risk management, and whistleblower protection were among the topics examined by the evaluation team.
In its evaluation report, GRECO states that Finland should intensify its anticorruption work and emphasises that an expedited adoption of a national anticorruption strategy and its subsequent implementation would be a very welcome and positive step. The report pays special attention to the corruption risks that relate to privatisation in the forthcoming health, social services and regional government reform.
Six of the recommendations issued by GRECO to prevent and fight corruption in Finland concern senior government officials and ministers and eight of them law enforcement authorities.
GRECO recommends, for example, adoption of a code of conduct for ministers and other senior government officials and provision of related training, establishment of a formal system for review of the declarations of interests and development of the declaration procedures, and intervention in conflicts of interest that relate to the so-called revolving door phenomenon. The revolving door phenomenon refers to the movement of persons entrusted with top executive functions from the public sector to the private sector and vice versa. Furthermore, GRECO recommends that Finland take measures to ensure that the procedures for lifting parliamentary immunity do not hamper or prevent criminal investigations in respect of ministers suspected of having committed corruption related offences.
Regarding law enforcement agencies, GRECO recommends that the police and the Border Guard develop a dedicated anticorruption strategy or policy, compile a code of conduct and specify their guidelines for secondary employment, organise training on the prevention and combating of corruption, and reinforce ethical practices in their career-related processes. In addition, it is recommended that the police enhance their risk management, internal oversight, and procedures to be followed by their officials when taking up secondary employment.
When it comes to whistleblowing and whistleblower protection, GRECO recommends that the police and the Border Guard be obliged to report suspicions of corruption and that protection of these whistleblowers be enhanced. In connection to this, GRECO also recommends that the police and the Border Guard draw up guidelines on whistleblowing and provide related training.
The previous country evaluations concerning Finland were conducted in 2001 (focus on the independence of the judiciary), in 2004 (public administration), in 2007 (criminalisation of corruption offences and party funding) and in 2013 (risk of corruption in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors). The on-site visit related to the fifth evaluation round was carried out in September 2017.
GRECO will publish the entire evaluation report on its website in English. A Finnish translation of the report will be published on the website of the Ministry of Justice (www.oikeusministerio.fi) later this spring.
Finland will report back on the action taken in response to GRECO’s recommendations by 30 September 2019.