|"I hope that Bulgaria will sign the Criminal Convention on Fighting Corruption of the Council of Europe on January 27, 1999 when it will be open for signing," said Mr. Guy De Vel, Director of the Directorate of Legal Affairs at the Council of Europe, during his visit to the Information Centre on the Council of Europe in Sofia on November 27, 1998. At a meeting with public officials and diplomats Mr. De Vel talked about the new priorities of the Council of Europe and its partnership with the states from Central and Eastern Europe.
According to Mr. De Vel, the Council of Europe is now focusing its efforts on three main areas: bio-ethics, social safety and democratic stability.
With respect to bio-ethics, a Protocol prohibiting human cloning will soon become effective, Mr. De Vel announced. The Council of Europe is currently working on another seven protocols regulating issues, such as medical research, organ transplant, protection of human embryos, etc. In those areas the Council of Europe will cooperate with the states from Central and Eastern Europe through the establishment of Ethics Committees.
In the framework of the efforts to guarantee social safety, one of the main priorities of the Council of Europe is the fight against corruption, Mr. De Vel pointed out. After adopting on November 4, 1998 a Criminal Convention on Fighting Corruption, the Council of Europe was now working on a Convention on the civil law aspects of corruption (treating the victims of corruption) and on a Code of conduct for public officials. According to Mr. De Vel, they will be adopted in the course of the next year.
"We hope that Bulgaria will join the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)," Mr. De Vel said. So far six states have joined GRECO. In order for the agreement establishing GRECO to become effective, though, it must be joined by at least 14 countries.
Another major priority of the Council of Europe is preventing the sexual exploitation of children. The Council of Europe has already adopted a resolution on this issue and is now setting a monitoring mechanism in various states, Mr. De Vel explained.
The sexual exploitation of children is very often connected to criminality on the Internet. For this reason the Council of Europe is currently drafting a special Convention against crime in cyberspace. This new convention is expected to become effective at the beginning of the year 2000.