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Untangling the viper’s nest

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Having done almost nothing to clean house during the current parliamentary term, and with their seats shaking with the fear of not getting re-elected, MPs are now jumping on the ethics bandwagon.

MPs promise to approve legislation that has been pending for a while to regulate their code of conduct.

Haven’t we heard that before?

Is this not the same House that has been dragging its feet on the whistleblower’s bill to protect informants, whether in the private sector or in civil service?

Is this also not true for wiretaps of known criminals?

Are these not the same MPs who often have conflicts of interest, and where the party’s interests are at stake, tolerate the wrongdoers and prefer to ignore injustice?

The Cyprus political system needed a rude awakening – the likes of the Al Jazeera sting video that cost a deputy and the Speaker’s political careers – to come to its senses.

Yet, the administration was reluctant to let go of the cash-for-passports scheme, for fear of losing loyalties, despite the warnings on the wall.

Unfortunately, suspending the programme has convinced no-one, not least our EU partners, to whom we often turn, whining about the absence of solidarity and a lack of support when it comes to the Cyprus problem.

That is why Brussels is not keen to chastise Turkey for its naughtiness in this part of the world, for fear of upsetting a balanced relationship between Ankara and member states such as Germany, or even the ranks of NATO.

President Erdogan knows this all too well.

This is why all the Cyprus-related issues are on the back burner; occasionally drawing the ire of the Greek Cypriots stirring up the hornet’s nest with the undeterred oil explorations, as well as with declarations to redevelop the ghost town of Varosha.

Enter the new Justice Minister, who, donning her superwoman costume, seems intent on improving everything wrong in this part of the system, and criticised parliament this week for dragging its feet over anti-corruption and other reforms.

But appearances could be misleading.

This ministry seems to be in a conflict of its own.

On the one hand, its subordinates, the police force, struggle to meander through legal obstacles to catch the bad guys, any bad guys.

The long arm of the law shortened by the lack of staff and the desperate need to retrain officers on wider issues, the first of which is the need for an attitude change.

At the same time, police investigators are deprived of the right guidelines and effective tools to pursue a case to the end, by limiting their scope and sometimes the line of questioning dictated by others.

But the desire to enhance law enforcement was something that should have happened two justice ministers ago.

What about the supposed police reform to recruit more bright young talents, introduce a contractual recruitment system for experts and upgrade our defenders of justice and law to a level at par of its European and international peers.

The justice minister should first try to find out where the police reform plan has been stuck. Seeing that the incumbent president and his administration have been in office for eight years, does not bode too well for the desired reforms.

The minister also needs to act like Caesar’s wife – not only to do the right thing but also seem to be doing it.

She has a lot on her plate, including a personal grudge to clamp down on a free press and media plurality.

Except for a handful of revelations by the Auditor General, a free and open media is the only means that has allowed for corruption to be revealed in Cyprus, either by local reporters who have limited tools or by foreign hacks.

Perhaps, the justice minister should work with the media to get things done, including exposing the MPs for the frauds that they are.