"Integrity and transparency are the alpha and omega of a healthy development of society. A society in which everyone's rights are respected, and everyone is treated equally. In which the procedures for enforcing laws and, consequently, rights, are fair and clear, in which the rule of law works", emphasised the Ombudsman Peter Svetina in his speech at the round table on Integrity in relation to legality and legitimacy at the Grand Hotel Union in Ljubljana on 30 September 2022. The round table was organised by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK).
He recalled that in its third report on the state of the rule of law in Slovenia in July 2022, the European Commission made two recommendations on anti-corruption efforts, namely that obstacles to investigating and prosecuting corruption cases should be removed - including by ensuring the operational autonomy of the National Bureau of Investigation, increasing the resources of the Public Prosecutor's Office and amending the statute of limitations - and that the country should immediately adopt and start implementing an anti-corruption strategy. He is pleased that the report highlights that several measures were taken to address the risk of corruption during the epidemic, in particular in the area of public procurement. However, he believes that many more steps will have to be taken if we are to be truly effective in preventing and prosecuting those who illegitimately and unjustifiably pursue their own ends in a clandestine manner, in one way or another, by breaking the law or abusing power.
He also pointed out that, in uncertain circumstances, the rules of society are put to the test and that it is therefore particularly important to respect the decisions of the authorities that decide which rules of society should apply, so that the dignity of the individual is respected, and his rights and fundamental freedoms are realised. "I am therefore concerned about the increase in the number of unenforced decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, as well as the increase in the number of unfulfilled recommendations of our institution. This is particularly important from the point of view of the legitimacy of government action, even if the recommendations of our institution are not legally binding. I cannot imagine the legitimacy of the State, local authorities or others without advocating solutions that respect the rule of law, human rights, integrity and the fight against corruption", clarified Ombudsman Svetina.
The Ombudsman is convinced that without a broad social consensus on the importance of integrity and zero tolerance for all that is bad, not only at the declarative level, but above all in practice, we will not be able to take steps forward. He agrees that active and early detection of bad practices is essential, but this must be preceded by awareness-raising, which he hopes will be followed by a broader awareness of the importance of ethics, morality and integrity in practice. The Ombudsman also believes that today, more than ever, there is a need for comprehensive support for people, both in terms of various forms of assistance, investment in human resources, simplification of administrative procedures and the removal of bureaucratic obstacles, and also in the form of promoting an integrative mindset aimed at dialogue. "It is only through dialogue that needs can be heard and the conditions for meeting them can be created. I believe that this is the only way to rebuild ourselves as a society of knowledge, ethics and values, which I hope we all want", stresses Mr Svetina.