NGO Calls for Parliamentary Code of Ethics

The chairman of the board of the Corruption-Free Estonia non-profit Jaanus Tehver has called for a code of ethics for parliamentarians.

Tehver, a lawyer by profession, said on ERR radio on December 2 that he agreed with the position of the Public Prosecutor's Office and IRL secretary general Priit Sibul that the recent scandal of legislators arranging residence permits for foreign businessmen was likely not illegal.

Tehver said the circumstances do not indicate that any kickbacks were received. "But the general context is such that we should be more aware of the possible risks in connection with such activity."

"It is intrinsically a problematic area and we have drawn attention to the fact that the rules in this area should be clearer among MPs as well. But the question of course is whether politicians used their influence to affect the proceduire for issuing residence permits," he said, adding that there were no signs so far indicating that had happened.

Tehver said he would support a code of ethics "whole-heartedly". He pointed out that the European Parliament by coincidence approved the code of ethics for MEPs on December 1, "which could be a kind of role model for us as well."

"The code of ethics should rule out conflict of interest of MPs in business activity," said Tehver, adding that such a code would not have judicial force.