Lack of personnel hampers Czech anti-corruption drive

CzechNews, Markéta Chaloupská, Veronika Suchá
26. 9. 2008 9:15
Transparency International´s report critical of ČR

Prague - Looking at the latest study presented by the international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI), the director of it Czech branch David Ondráčka said: "Recent cases show that the main problems in our country are still political corruption, uncontrolled lobbying, insufficient independence of the justice system and too tamed public service."

It appears that the offices responsible for the fight against corruption still lack many elite detectives. Recently, the anti-corruption police ask for additional 90 staff members. This is only one of the organizations involved in anti-corruption activities.

The Organized Crime Detection Unit (ÚOOZ) is lacking personnel too. Its spokesman Pavel Hanták admitted they lack nearly 100 people.

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"It is clear that 250 employees in an anti-corruption unit are not enough. This forces them to pay attention only to the major affairs, leaving the rest to the local offices which are more prone to be influenced. If a local policeman from a small town is questioning the mayor, there's bound to be an information leak," Ondráčka said.

Making slow progress

He informed that the Czech TI has filed six charges recently, but all the progress seems to be quite slow.

"Police has started investigation, but there are no results. We don't even turn to the police with all the cases, but only with the major affairs when no other solution is at hand."

However, anti-corruption police spokesman Roman Skřepek believes the lack of personnel does not influence their work.

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It is not easy to find suitable employees. Those interested in working at ÚOOZ need to have experience in the field and pass psychological and physical tests. Once the first part is completed, they are tested practical analyses of specific cases.

And it is often the second part of the testing that is a problem. "Only about 40 percent pass," explained Hanták.

"Not a definite trend"

The Interior Ministry believes that this trend is not definite. "From the point of view of the facilities' equipment, the situation is improving significantly, which motivates people. Given this development, we believe that the trend of employees leaving should be reversed soon," Deputy Interior Minister Jaroslav Salivar told Aktuálně.cz. At the same time, he admitted it may take years of hard work.

Salivar believes many policemen quit their job because of a new law introduced in 2007 that requires a head of an elite force to have a university diploma.


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