Anti-Corruption Commission explores EU support for witness protection and asset declaration system

The Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) explored possibilities for EUPOL COPPS support to enhance witness protection in Palestine as well as strengthen frameworks obliging public servants to declare their assets. This support was requested at a meeting on 16 January held between PACC Commissioner Ahmad Barrak and the Deputy Head of EUPOL COPPS’ Rule of Law Section Clemens Mueller.

“A robust programme for protecting witnesses as well as a comprehensive framework which obliges public officials to declare their assets and incomes are both essential tools in the fight against corruption,” said Mueller. “It is for this reason that we are currently supporting the PACC in drafting standard operating procedures to its Witness Protection Programme, in addition to providing specialised trainings and enhancing the cooperation between the PACC and the Palestinian Civil Police to investigate corruption cases”.

“Moreover,” the EUPOL COPPS official added, “a well-functioning asset declarations system increases transparency and accountability in the public sector. It allows law enforcement officials to check official declarations of income and assets and take appropriate measures in case of unexplained wealth. While Palestine currently has a system for asset declarations, there is scope to strengthen this”.

Dr. Barrak underlined, “Asset declaration is a fundamental element for preventing corruption risks and protecting citizens, dignitaries and employees from campaigns aimed at defamation or character assassination”, pointing to the increased commitment to filling out asset declaration forms by all who are subject to the Anti-Corruption Commission Law.

EU support for anti-corruption measures has been valuable in recent decades for countries that have become EU members, for countries aspiring to become EU members or for countries in the EU’s neighbourhood. EUPOL COPPS advisers therefore have a number of European and international best practices to draw to support the PACC in creating a strengthened anti-corruption framework in Palestine.