10 Mart 2016 Perşembe 13:01
Transparency Turkey: Immunity in politics wide enough to cover corruption

Corruption perception grows in Turkey while the country heads to a "dark future" due to the problem of "impunity", urged Transparency International Turkey Chairwoman Oya Özarslan.

"A part of the system and the economy functions regardless of law, illegally and secretly. This situation refers to a moral collapse, but more importantly to unlawfulness" Oya Özarslan told DHA, while underscoring that corruption is beyond an economic crime.

Transparency Turkey has announced its corruption report declaring more than 55 percent of the population in Turkey believes that the level of corruption has increased over the past two years. The report has shown the overall proportion of people who were asked a bribe approached 20 percent in the last year.

This rate is measured only 3 percent in the European Union, Oya Özarslan said analyzing the research results, adding that "at least one in five gives bribe in transactions such as health, education, tax procedures and land registry operations".

"Lack of political funding law, political ethics law"

Having referred to the basic suggestions of the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), Oya Özarslan addressed the lack of "political funding law, political ethics law." She urged that the "immunity in politics is wide enough to cover corruption".

Özarslan also underlined the lack of transparency in electoral campaigns comparing to other countries such as the United States. It is not possible to track the basis of sources used by politicians for pre-electoral campaigns, and how they refund, she said.

According to Transparency Turkey Head, purchase of goods and services are mostly from the public, while the article for exceptions in the public procurement law has been inflated. "The exceptional cases such as disasters, war and crisis applied across the world outside the open tender system is used for everything but urgent cases" she said.

"This includes coal aid to disadvantaged people, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) printing ballot papers. Meanwhile, mega projects, transportation, housing development administration of turkey (TOKİ) procedures are excluded from certain articles of the tender law" Özarslan added.

"To pronounce corruption became a sign of courage"

According to Özarslan immunity creates impunity not only in politics, but also in bureaucracy in Turkey, while the culture of impunity gives rise to despair and the thought that fighting corruption is impossible.

"Journalists and ordinary people have been standing trial because they covered, wrote on corruption" urged Özarslan. She stated that the act of uttering corruption became a sign of courage.

"The impunity goes beyond the 17-25 corruption scandal" she said, recalling the acquittal of suspects in the "Lighthouse corruption case", despite the ongoing proceeding in Germany. Instead, three prosecuting officers have faced probes, she said.

Oya Özarslan defended that corruption can lead to violence in a country where the law and Constitution are not regarded. "I do not care if you respect the law or not but if everyone starts to implement their own law, this will lead to chaos" she urged.

The COP21 climate summit has welcomed Transparency International in Paris, held in Dec. 2015. Özarslan confirmed the "obvious link" between the fight against climate change and corruption.

"The leaders of institutions should pronounce corruption"

Turkey keeps losing its woods, green lands, forests, while the cities turn into places difficult to live, due to "irregularity and political favoritism" in public tenders and zoning procedures, she stressed.

"The leaders of institutions should pronounce corruption, fight it and demand respect to law" suggested Oya Özarslan, adding that Turkey's law should function well and pave the way of reforms regarding corruption.

Turkish government has recently introduced a transparency reform package, while claiming it has founded 15 commissions to fight corruption with regards to a strategy plan announced by the Supervisory Board in 2010. Özarslan said officials have not shared any of the results and updates of these procedures, although the Transparency International have been demanding disclosure, she said.



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