The 2019 gathering is characterized by an innovative format, having as focus and driver of the discussion the theme “Police, Corruption and Ethics: Addressing Corruption in the Police and in the Society”. In addition, the Transnational Threats Department/Strategic Police Matters Unit (TNTD/SPMU) holds a closing session where the field operations, the OSCE executive structures and, the participating States can exchange information, best practices and lessons learned on any relevant subject.
The meeting is a valuable opportunity to strengthen co-ordination and mutual support in the context of tackling corruption while at the same time upholding the rule of law and ensuring respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms within the OSCE area, in line with the OSCE Guidebook on Democratic Policing, and with our regional and international partners.
“Police, Corruption, Ethics”: what does it stand for?
Corruption triggers a vicious cycle of undermining institutions and weakening democracy. The effects of corruption are widespread: it can threaten political, social and economic stability, and ultimately undermine the safety and security of society as a whole. Hence, preventing and countering corruption is a multidimensional issue and as such almost all OSCE executive structures are and should be involved. Sharing information and best practices is pivotal to address the two dimensions of corruption, namely, internal police corruption and the corruption enshrined within a society.
One of the main responsibilities of the police is combating any type of crime, including corruption, providing safe and secure environment for democratic institutions and ensuring the respect of the rule of law. Therefore, if addressing corruption externally is and should be one of the main priorities of the police, addressing police corruption is also essential to support the legitimacy of the state and to maintain public trust in democratic processes. Corruption cannot stand apart from ethics and deontology.
Without ethical conduct, the basis of our society will fade away; as the power entrusted to governmental, administrative and law enforcement institutions can be easily manipulated, it is vital to have a comprehensive approach, encompassing institutional changes and reform, as well as deontological education and participation. Therefore, corruption will be addressed in two ways: as an element enshrined in the societies, and as an endemic element of risk within the police.
The OSCE mandate to prevent and combat corruption while promoting ethical behavior rests on the 2012 OSCE Permanent Council Decision 1049, which refers to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). In particular, the OSCE supports and commends Chapters II and V of UNCAC, respectively, on prevention measures, with awareness-raising activities, collection of good practices and on asset recovery, including through the organization of training activities. This places the Organization in a good position to contribute effectively to the promotion of police accountability throughout the OSCE area.