The Czech Republic’s position on the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International slightly improved in 2017. The country moved two rungs up the ladder to 42nd place, acquiring 57 points out of a maximum possible 100. David Ondráčka of Transparency’s Czech branch told Radio Prague that the improvement was only slight and the country should aim to do better.
“However, it also reflects a certain improvement in the legislative framework. There were a number of new laws and norms adopted over the past year two or three years.
“It shows that there are a lot of initiatives towards greater transparency and compliance in the public as well as the private sector. And I think this actually leads us to a potential positive trajectory but as I said, we should aim higher.”
So what do you think should be done so that we don’t stay in the local division, as you said?
“We have to address the phenomenon of state capture. There are definitely risks that some of the pillars of national integrity might be questioned, meaning control institutions, judiciary, police but also public broadcasting media and NGOs.
“We can see that in many of our neighbouring countries there are quite open attacks on their independence. So that’s one thing.
“The second thing is that we have to go beyond simple publishing of information online, because that’s not enough. We need to provide some analysis. There are so many registers and databases online but the information does not necessarily provide fair public control and oversight.
"And finally, I believe we have to work on enforcement. When we look at big corruption cases, we see how long it takes to actually get a final verdict. But even the small cases or petty corruption cases are kind of overlooked by the public and I believe there is definitely room for improvement.”
How is the Czech Republic doing in the context of other countries in the region?
“If we take the Visegrad region, the Czech Republic was the only country which improved slightly. All the others actually got worse and we can see that the situation in Hungary and Poland is deteriorating quite quickly. So we might be perceived as a kind of island of liberal and relatively open democracy. But the risks are there, definitely.
“In terms of EU members, we ranked 18th out of 28 countries. We are on the same level as Spain or Cyprus for instance, but I believe we should try to compare ourselves to Scandinavians or Germans to actually increase the level of transparency and lower the corruption rate in the country.”