News
New GRECO Report Evaluates Iceland’s Response Against Corruption In Politics

New GRECO Report Evaluates Iceland’s Response Against Corruption In Politics

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Screenshot from RÚV

Published April 13, 2018

In a report published yesterday by the Council of Europe, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) criticised Iceland for not making a big enough effort to fight corruption in politics.

In 2015, the same year the infamous Panama Papers were leaked to the public, GRECO had already called Iceland’s compliance with the ten recommendations contained in their Fourth Round Evaluation Report “globally unsatisfactory.”

About three years later, after the implementation of a new code of conduct for politicians and an anti-corruption steering group, GRECO still thinks that Icelandic governments have not taken enough responsibility to make a concrete impact on politicians’ behaviour. Specifically, the report stresses, the government needs to focus on managing conflicts of interest that might effectively hinder democracy, for instance “taking into account risks that assets be deliberately registered under someone else’s name (spouse, for instance).”

“The Icelandic government can learn a lot from this report, but I also think that a lot has changed since I first started working in Parliament,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told RÚV.

“The government needs to address the sore lack of legislation when it comes to lobbysts”

“We now have rules about registering conflicts of interest, and we have an ethical code that we didn’t have before the 2008 crash. However, I still think we must do better.”

The report further encourages the government to review and strengthen simple ethical rules such as not accepting personal gifts like free trips from third parties, avoiding the misuse of public resources (especially in an electoral period), as well as engaging in any non-permitted, remunerated jobs that go beyond their political position. Furthermore, the government needs to address the sore lack of legislation when it comes to lobbyists and the risk they represent, in addition to ensuring the independence of the police force from any political or governmental pressure.

Nevertheless, the report underlines that it’s not enough to provide a set of rules regulating politicians’ behaviours.

“I still think we must do better”

Rather, it’s necessary to actually enforce this set of rules and implement sanctions when the regulations are not adhered to—a concept that has not been a popular subject of discussion in Iceland so far.

“I have followed the debate amongst Icelandic ethicists regarding this matter, but it’s never been discussed whether or not sanctions are actually appropriate when it comes to ethical rules,” Katrín explained. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister also agrees that strengthening the rules about conflicts of interest are necessary in a country like Iceland, especially when it comes to ensuring that the registers are properly updated and regularly monitored.


News
17 Scientists Back Statement That Icelandic Company Killed Blue Whale

17 Scientists Back Statement That Icelandic Company Killed Blue Whale

by

Seventeen scientists in the fields of biology and marine life have issued a joint statement put forward that they consider

News
Icelandic Midwives’ Overtime Strike Begins At Midnight

Icelandic Midwives’ Overtime Strike Begins At Midnight

by

Midwives are preparing to stop working overtime from midnight tonight, but sources close to Grapevine report that the ongoing labour

News
Öræfajökull Volcano: Will It Or Won’t It Erupt?

Öræfajökull Volcano: Will It Or Won’t It Erupt?

by

Speculation has been swirling about the glacier-covered volcano in southeast Iceland, but the activity of volcanoes is notoriously difficult to

News
Icelandic Whaler: “Slow News Period” To Blame For Coverage Of Rare Whale Kill

Icelandic Whaler: “Slow News Period” To Blame For Coverage Of Rare Whale Kill

by

Kristján Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s sole fin whale hunting company, Hvalur hf., gave a very candid interview with Icelandic

News
Icelandic Biologist Considers It Likely Killed Whale Is Rare Hybrid

Icelandic Biologist Considers It Likely Killed Whale Is Rare Hybrid

by

A DNA sample of the whale killed in Icelandic waters last week is currently being tested, and an Icelandic biologist

News
Horsin’ Around at Landsmót Hestamanna

Horsin’ Around at Landsmót Hestamanna

by

Over the week of July 1st to 8th, thousands of people from Iceland and abroad gathered on a grassy hill

Show Me More!