Euroopan neuvoston korruption vastaisen elimen Suomea koskeva raportti julkaistu
Greco huolissaan Helsingin poliisilaitoksella paljastuneesta korkea profiilin skandaalista1. This report evaluates the effectiveness of the framework in place in Finland to prevent corruption amongst persons with top executive functions (ministers and senior government officials) and members of law enforcement agencies (more specifically, the Police and Border Guard). It aims at supporting the on-going reflection in the country as to how to strengthen transparency, integrity and accountability in public life.
2. Finland traditionally scores high in perception surveys on the fight against corruption and risks of actual bribery are considered to be low or non-existent. That said, a series of scandals in recent years have brought the integrity of public service into question and have revealed clear instances in which conflicts of interest were not being dealt with appropriately, old boys' networks exchanging favours and brushing the dirt under the carpet, and even schemes of corruption and organised crime permeating Police structures over a long period of time. Furthermore, the country has been severely affected by an economic crisis starting in 2008, which has led to sharp cuts in public budgets and privatisation processes. The provision of public goods and services by private companies is raising additional challenges, also because of the new conflicts of interest that are transpiring from this process; the health sector privatisation reform is, at the moment, the most obvious one.
3. With all this in mind, it must be questioned whether what has been considered the most prominent instrument of Finland to combat corruption, i.e. trust, is in itself alone a sufficiently preventive tool; all the more so, when the trust element is placed in persons rather than procedures. Perception indexes have done meagre service in this regard, inducing self-satisfaction rather than alertness about potential wrongdoing. An Anticorruption Cooperation Network was established a decade ago, primarily to reflect on the recommendations issued to Finland by international anticorruption monitoring bodies; it gathers under its umbrella different governmental agencies as well as non-governmental organisations. An anticorruption strategy is in the pipeline for the period 2017-2021 and awaits government approval, but political consensus on this matter has not yet been reached. Its expedited adoption and subsequent implementation would be a very welcome and positive step.
4. Over the last two decades, the Ministry of Finance has undertaken positive steps to issue guidance materials for public officials regarding ethical matters. It remains important, however, that the government becomes more proactive in developing its members’ awareness of their specific integrity challenges and in improving the management of conflicts of interest. Not only must clear standards be set in this respect, but compliance with these must be assured since, at present, the main accountability mechanism boils down to reputational damage or an exceptional impeachment. With this in mind, it is critical to review the current system of immunities and the related procedures which could potentially hamper the investigation of corruption offences. Moreover, the advisory channels for persons entrusted with top executive functions must be built up. Ultimately, ministers and senior government officials are the ones to set the right tone for public administration, and more generally for public life, and to lead by example.
5. As for law enforcement, a high profile scandal within the Helsinki Police has shaken the foundations of an institution with otherwise solid records of public trust. This case has also evidenced the relevance of strengthening the systems to prevent and detect corrupt behaviour. It is therefore important to assure the public that the Police is gripping the issue and placing increased effort in promoting high standards of integrity within its ranks. In this connection, the Border Guard could also take the opportunity to participate in a review of its own integrity and accountability mechanisms and the tools at its disposal to prevent misconduct. This requires a deliberate anticorruption policy and the development of uniform standards and expectations as to what is acceptable and to what, a sensu contrario, is tantamount to unacceptable, unethical, unprofessional or illegal behaviour. There must be a clear message concurrently, not only for all echelons of the respective forces, but also for the general public.
Raportti Englanniksi - Ranskaksi
Grecon Suomea koskeva sivu: Finland