Czech Republic Faces Challenges in Corruption Investigations, says European Commission

Czech Republic Faces Challenges in Corruption Investigations, says European Commission

The Czech Republic has made strides in its judiciary reforms in the past year, but the European Commission has highlighted deficiencies in corruption investigations, particularly in high-profile cases. In its annual assessment of the state of the rule of law in EU member states, the Commission acknowledged progress in various areas but expressed concerns about certain aspects of the Czech Republic’s legal system.

The Commission’s report outlined several key issues. Firstly, it emphasized the need for improvements in corruption investigations, citing procedural delays and potential political interference in high-level corruption cases as significant obstacles. It noted that the Czech government’s overall approach to anti-corruption policies has faced criticism, despite the adoption of an anti-corruption strategy for the period from 2023 to 2026.

Additionally, the report drew attention to the working conditions of organizations defending sexual minorities, highlighting concerns about their ability to operate effectively. The Commission also noted uncertainties surrounding ethics rules for lawmakers, which could undermine the transparency and integrity of the legislative process.

The assessment was divided into four chapters: judiciary, fight against corruption, media pluralism, and checks and balances of institutions. On a positive note, the Commission recognized positive developments in the justice sector. It commended the Czech Republic for introducing a more transparent and standardized system for selecting judges and advancing the reform of prosecutor’s offices, although the final approval is still pending.

However, the report pointed out that while judges may see salary increases, the pay for other court and prosecution staff remains below the national average for the public sector. Furthermore, the digitization of the judiciary was deemed to be progressing slowly, impeding efficiency and accessibility.

Regarding media pluralism, the Commission applauded the Czech Republic’s efforts to strengthen the independence of the Broadcasting Council. A law change in the previous year reduced the prime minister’s influence over the appointment and removal of council members. Amendments to the law were also expected to reduce political influence over the boards overseeing Czech Television and Czech Radio.

Nevertheless, the Commission expressed ongoing concerns about economic challenges faced by independent media, leading to cost-cutting measures and layoffs. It also highlighted the increasing number of online attacks and threats against journalists, particularly women.

While the report is non-binding, it serves as a basis for the Commission’s recommendations and dialogue with national authorities. It combines both data and perceptions of the rule of law in specific countries, providing a comprehensive evaluation of the Czech Republic’s progress and areas that require further attention.

Article by Prague Forum

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