The Government spends a year creating the state anti-corruption office that it wants to take outside of Madrid | Spain

Corruption has returned to the agenda and the political dispute these days with the Koldo case and one of the instruments planned to combat it, the law approved just a year ago to regulate the protection of people who report these types of infractions and the creation of a state office with independent authority to investigate such complaints remains unenforced. The deadline to appoint the president of that entity, of recognized prestige and with a non-extendable mandate of five years, meets this Wednesday and will be exceeded, according to government sources involved in the process. The Government is still searching in this environment of permanent political confrontation for the personality that passes the parliamentary examination that is required with an absolute majority and is also seeking to have the state anti-corruption office installed outside of Madrid in its policy of decentralizing this type of institutions.

The first proposal to promote a Comprehensive Law to Fight Corruption and Protection of Whistleblowers came from Ciudadanos in 2016, when it still had representation in Parliament. Then the socialist parliamentary group stopped it in 2017 with more than 30 amendments because it wanted to extend the protection of corruption whistleblowers beyond senior officials, officials and personnel serving the public sector. A year ago, on February 20, 2023, the Law regulating the protection of people who report regulatory infractions and the fight against corruption was finally approved, a few days later it was published in the BOE and officially came into force on the 13th. March of that year, but one of its fundamental measures remains stopped in the search for solutions.

In its explanatory statement, the norm highlighted the importance of citizen collaboration as something essential for the effectiveness of the Law, but it already warned: “These laudable civic behaviors have generated painful consequences for those who have reported such corrupt practices and other infractions, such as the pressures from those accused.” And he concluded: “It is essential that the legal system protects citizens when they show courageous behavior of clear public utility.” And he advocated “establishing awareness in society that those who break the law must be prosecuted and that non-compliance should not be condoned or silenced.” The purpose of the law was and is “to protect citizens who report violations of the legal system within the framework of a professional relationship.” In the English-speaking world, where this concept is widely implemented, they are known as “whistleblowers” ​​(those who use the whistle to warn), so the law, which is the mandatory transposition of a European directive, is also known as the ley Whistleblowers.

In Spain, it began to be partially implemented in some autonomies (Catalonia, the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, Navarra, Asturias and Andalusia) and since 2018 it has also operated in the Madrid City Council, which nominated the former State Attorney General, Carlos Granados, for this independent position. retired, who continues to serve in that position. The autonomous governments of the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, arising from agreements between the PP and Vox after the last local elections last May, have put the spotlight on those offices with cuts despite being territories in which for many years they had their own free will. corruption wide. The Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia (OAC), chaired by Miguel Ángel Gimeno, is still in operation and has made several serious complaints.

The state law already in force for the protection of so-called “whistleblowers” ​​or “informants” and establish the minimum standards for information channels throughout the State and that could affect any administration is structured in 68 articles, six additional provisions, three transitional provisions and twelve final provisions. One of its fundamental articles is the one that establishes the creation of the Independent Whistleblower Protection Authority, “with its own legal personality and full public and private capacity, which will act with full autonomy and organic and functional independence with respect to the Government, the member entities of the public sector and public powers in the exercise of their functions.”

Article 53 establishes that the person holding the Presidency of that authority will have the rank of undersecretary, will be appointed by royal decree in the Council of Ministers at the proposal of the head of the Ministry of Justice, for a non-renewable period of five years, ” between people of recognized prestige and professional competence in the field of matters within the authority of the Authority, after appearing before the corresponding Commission of Congress”, where it must be agreed upon by an absolute majority.

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The norm provided in one of its provisions (the eleventh) that within a period of one year from its entry into force, that is, this March 13, 2024, the Council of Ministers had to approve by royal decree, at the proposal of the Ministries of Justice and Treasury and Public Service, the Statute of that Independent Authority for the Protection of Informants with its organization, structure and all aspects for its proper functioning. That limit has not been met.

The Government is still searching for the profile of the personality who can hold that representation and that work and garner the consensus of the absolute majority of the Chamber, but sources involved in this selection advance that not only do they not give up applying the law but they also They are in the final weeks to complete that process. In the Executive, according to the same sources, they also want this authority not to be based in Madrid, like most institutions, and to be based outside the capital, in line with the decentralization policy of other organizations that they want to carry out. carried out in this mandate.

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