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Round table: Independent Agency for Combating Corruption: Romanian Experience
 
On March 28, 2003, the Center for the Study of Democracy and Coalition 2000 organized a round table discussion on the experience of Romania in combating corruption with guest expert Mr. Terry Lord, Resident Legal Advisor at the US Embassy in Romania.

Members of the Parliamentary Anti-Corruption Committee, representatives of the Governmental Anti-corruption Commission, the National Investigation Agency and non-governmental organizations were invited to take part in the discussion.

Mr. Terry Lord, Resident Legal Advisor at the US Embassy in Romania, presented practical aspects of the work of the Romanian Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office. Mr. Lord had worked for the US Department of Justice since 1970. He became the Resident Legal Advisor of the US Embassy in Bucharest in the summer of 2001. As an expert in prosecution of corruption cases he is involved in supporting the work of the recently established National Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office in Romania.

In his presentation Mr. Lord introduced some of the major points in the law regulating the establishment of the anti-corruption office, adopted in July 2002, as well as some aspects of the operation of the unit and the problems it has encountered. He stressed that the number one principle in establishing an anti-corruption unit should be independence. Ethical training and Code of Conduct training is therefore essential for the independence of the public prosecutors involved in the operation of the unit.

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office is structured into two levels: it has a Central office and Territorial Task Forces. In accordance with its structure the central unit investigates only high level officials and the territorial - lower level officials. The Director of the unit is appointed by the President of Romania and should have ten years of experience as prosecutor and the public prosecutors of the National Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office should have 6 years of service in the office of public prosecutor or judge, as well as remarkable personal qualities and results in combating crimes of corruption.

One of the major limitations in the work of the Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office, according to Mr. Lord, is the unit's funding. "Funding of an anti-corruption unit might cost a lot", Mr. Lord said, "but it costs more not to do it. In the end it pays back."

A special database was created for sharing and coordinating information among the various agencies who have this information and those who are in need of it.

Another important point brought forward was the reporting system of the Anti-Corruption Office, which helped to identify the immediate needs of the prosecutors involved in investigating cases of corruption. This proved the necessity of developing special training by the US Embassy in Bucharest in support of the unit, which was so designed as to provide practical advice and expertise to the prosecutors.

Mr. Lord noted that the implementation of a strategy for dissemination of information to the public was essential to the success of the project, as reporting cases of corruption was always a very sensitive issue. He related some of the problems the Romanian Anti-corruption Office has met in this respect.

Mr. Dimitar Markov, Project Coordinator at the Law Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, highlighted the arguments in favor and against the idea of the Bulgarian President for establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency in Bulgaria and the potential steps that are to be taken before implementing such an idea.

Related links
Round table: Establishing a National Agency for Combating Corruption: Pro and Contra
Law N503 of 11 July 2002 for the approval of the Government Emergency Ordinance N43/2002 regarding the National Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office in Romania

 
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