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Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; nevertheless, government corruption at all levels was widespread. The government made few efforts to enforce legislation aimed at preventing and prosecuting corruption.

Corruption: According to the World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators, corruption was a severe problem. The law provides the legislative framework for addressing official corruption, but implementation was weak, and many punishments were lenient. Officials found guilty of corrupt acts could often avoid jail time if they returned ill-gotten funds. Journalists who reported on government corruption were sometimes intimidated, detained, and interrogated by services.

A special anticorruption attorney investigates and tries corruption cases involving officials, their spouses, and their children. Punishments for embezzlement include imprisonment or execution for public service workers, although these sanctions were almost never carried out. All bank employees are considered public service workers.

In August 2015 the Council of Ministers chaired by the minister of the presidency endorsed the National Anti-corruption Commission Bill for 2015, presented by the minister of justice. The bill aimed to establish an anticorruption commission for all levels of government to boost transparency in financial and administrative transactions. As of July the president had returned the bill to the National Assembly where it remained pending review in December.

Reporting on corruption was considered a “red line” set by NISS and a topic authorities for the most part prohibited newspapers from covering (section 2.a.).

Financial Disclosure: The law requires high officials to disclose publicly income and assets. There are no clear sanctions for noncompliance, although the commission possesses discretionary powers to punish violators. The Financial Disclosure and Inspection Committee and the Unlawful and Suspicious Enrichment Administration at the Justice Ministry both monitored compliance. Despite two different bodies ostensibly charged with combating official corruption, there was no effective enforcement or prosecution of offenders.

Public Access to Information: In January 2015 the government passed a freedom of information law to promote greater transparency and allow citizens greater access to information. As of August local and international human rights observers and journalists remained skeptical the law would improve access to information given that little information was publicly disseminated about the law. The law exempts 12 categories of information that can be maintained as classified, including personal information and information on national security, foreign policy, and criminal procedures.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future