House approves code of conduct for MPs

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On Friday, the Cypriot parliament finally approved a code of conduct for MPs demanded by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body GRECO.

Introducing a code of behaviour for MPs was one of GRECO’s recommendations in the context of the fourth evaluation round.

The decision ratifying the Code was approved with 32 votes in favour and one abstention.

“The building and maintaining of trust in state institutions and the broader rule of law are best served with the adoption of values and regulations of conduct governing the members of the House of Representatives while discharging their duties,” said parliament’s decision ratifying the Code.

Zacharias Zachariou, chairman of the House Committee on Institutions, said the Code’s text was drafted to achieve consensus among all parties.

He said the Code provides for “political penalties” if an MP violates the Code, although there were suggestions it should provide a deduction of salary.

The Code governs MPs’ broader conduct both in and outside parliament, regulating issues of transparency, such as conflict of interest, declaration of gifts, and paid trips abroad.

Cyprus MPS had come under increased pressure by GRECO after two senior MPs were caught in an Al Jazeera sting operation appearing to facilitate a Cyprus passport for a criminal Chinese investor.

Parliament speaker Demetris Syllouris and AKEL MP and real estate developer Christakis Giovanis—both of whom were exposed by Al Jazeera to be key enablers of the scheme—both resigned from their posts.

Cyprus dropped its scheme after Al Jazeera revealed how prominent politicians were willing to enable wealthy individuals with criminal records to obtain passports.

GRECO recommended that MPs’ asset declaration be more comprehensive while control over such declarations needs strengthening.

In November, it said that out of 16 recommendations from 2016, Cyprus had fulfilled seven, six remain partly implemented, and three had not been implemented.