Independent external investigation body to look into allegations of corruption
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has created an independent external investigation body to carry out a detailed independent inquiry into allegations of "corruption and fostering of interests" made against certain PACE members or former members.
The body shall identify any practices contrary to the Assembly's ethical standards, and determine the extent thereof. It is due to establish, in the light of these findings, whether there is sufficient proof to take action against members or former members of the Assembly, pursuant to paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Code of Conduct for members of the Parliamentary Assembly.
It shall also verify whether there are any forms of individual conduct by members of the Assembly or former members of the Assembly which have not respected the provisions of the Code of Conduct for members of the Parliamentary Assembly and other relevant codes of conduct.
Finally, it shall draw up recommendations on the measures to be implemented to rectify the shortcomings and fill the gaps in the Assembly's ethical framework.
Section 9 of its terms of reference provides that the Investigation Body shall gather and make use of all relevant information and all documentary, testimonial and material evidence necessary for the fulfilment of its mission. It may, in particular:
- summon anyone, in particular any member and/or former member of the Assembly, while respecting their parliamentary status, and any member of the Assembly secretariat, to give evidence;
- hear any witness wishing to be heard by the Investigation Body;
- request the assistance of any national authority of a member state;
- request the provision of any document it deems relevant for its investigation.
Pursuant to its mandate, the Investigation Body invites those wishing to provide any documentary, testimonial and/or material evidence which they consider necessary for the fulfilment of its mission to contact its secretariat, no later than 1 September 2017.
In accordance with its terms of reference, the work of the Investigation Body is strictly confidential. The taking of evidence from the members and former members of the Assembly is conducted with due regard to their parliamentary status. When giving evidence members of the Council of Europe Secretariat, including the Assembly secretariat, are covered by the provisions of Rule No. 1327 of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of 10 January 2011 on awareness and prevention of fraud and corruption. These provisions also apply to any witness heard by the investigation body who, although not a member of the Council of Europe Secretariat, participates in the Council of Europe's activities, wherever they may be carried out, in particular trainees, experts and consultants.