NEWS

Lax climate and impunity allow illegality to flourish

Four assistant ombudsmen also spoke to Kathimerini of their five years of fruitful activity in the areas of corruption, bad management and human rights. Yiannis Michail, responsible for the Citizen’s Advocate quality of life section, did not beat about the bush over corruption. «Parliament is simply cropping the weeds, not tearing them up by the roots.» And he added, «We don’t grasp that bad administration is what forms fertile soil for corruption. «If the State does not clean out its Augean stables, then cases of corruption will recur. But the government does not seem willing to establish the rule of law. State employees that break the law remain unpunished, due to the disarray of disciplinary procedures. «Most illegalities occur in the ferocious exploitation of property (through illegal building), which harms both neighbors and the environment. «Indicatively, I refer to the case of a mayor of Attica who did not deign to reply to five letters of ours, and thus was imprisoned for a term of seven months.» Michail also mentioned the successful outcome to the question of expropriations by the Ministry of Culture with respect to archaeological sites. «The ministry unblushingly averred it had no money, which was inconceivable in terms of the State’s prestige. After the Ombudsman intervened, the government dealt with the issue by giving convertible certificates to the landholders,» said Michail. His colleague in human rights, G. Kaminis, spoke of the problems faced by people today. «Some had remained invisible due to prejudice (e.g. sex discrimination), but are emerging for the first time due to recent developments (electronic spying, personal data issues) or to the rapid development in mass media (invasion of privacy) or even the change in the demographic makeup of Greek society (economic migrants).» Maria Mitrosylli, responsible for social protection, confronted the basic structural problems in the social security and health systems. She came to the conclusion that «these sectors not only require modernization, but a more human touch, so that they are fairer and friendlier toward citizens.» An outstanding example of maladministration was «the unjustifiable delay in issuing pensions, the absences and the bad behavior of doctors in state hospitals, irregularities in assigning supplies and discrimination in handing out benefits.» Mitrosylli regards decisions on benefits as «irrational and inequitable,» citing the example of paraplegics. «They take into account [for benefits], not the degree of disability of the person being examined, but the diseases that cause limb paralysis.» Aliki Koutsoumari, in charge of relations between the State and the citizen, stresses that maladministration has become endemic in Greece. «Lack of infrastructure, chronic stagnation and outdated attitudes lead to questionable interpretations of citizens’ rights. The government must realize that maladministration is first and foremost bad for it.»