Tag Archives: documents

Is OLAF Authorized to Search EP Premises?

The simple answer is yes. Some justification follows.

First – some background of the case. The English newspaper Sunday Times has conducted an investigation, claiming that several MEPs were willing to take money in exchange for filing legislative amendments. Three MEPs were named – the Austrian centre-right Ernst Strasser, the Slovenian Socialist Zoran Thaler and the Romanian Socialist Adrian Severin. OLAF decided to open a formal investigation immediately and OLAF investigators attempted to collect evidence from the offices of the concerned MEPs located at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday 22 March. However, the EP authorities refused to give access to these offices and claimed these would be secured by EP security personnel.

The EP clearly erred here. As OLAF has pointed out in its statement, its competences are outlined in art. 325 TFEU, and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Art. 1, para. 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 specifically points out that OLAF shall conduct administrative investigations within the institutions for the purpose of fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the EU. Art. 4, para. 2 clearly says that OLAF has the right of immediate and unannounced access to any information held by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, and to their premises. In addition, Annex XII to the Rules of Procedure of the EP the services and any official or servant of the EP is required to cooperate fully with the Office’s agents and to lend any assistance required to the investigation.

Now, someone might claim that by providing the documents in question, the EP might have cooperated in good faith without granting physical access to OLAF. This is not true, however. First, the purpose of immediate and unannounced access to information and documents is to prevent any opportunity for tampering the evidence. Second, the EP officials are not trained and do not have legal authorization to open locked premises, document containers, etc.

“Afghanistan is not Sweden”???

I’ve been following with slight misapprehension the nervous reactions of some US bloggers and commentators on the Wikileaks scandal that involved the publication of thousands of US military confidential documents on the Internet.

One particular post, however, needs further comment. It comes from the Passport blog of the Foreign Policy magazine and was written by Blake Hounshell. It is titled “Afghanistan is not Sweden”. There, Mr. Hounshell criticizes “naïve” reactions of bloggers that have expressed concern with the quite high levels of tolerance to civilian casualties in the US military.

Huh? “Afghanistan is not Sweden”? Wow, never thought about it this way!

The very title of this post is derogatory for Afghan people. We all VERY WELL know that Afghanistan is NOT Sweden; we learned that at school. But it is no more legitimate to kill civilian Afghans than to kill civilian Swedes. If Mr. Hounshell thinks otherwise, he should seek other venues to express his agenda.

As a permanent reader of the Foreign Policy magazine and blogs I feel personally offended by this post. To claim that the leak of documents is illegal and threatens current operations is one thing; to claim that people around the world are of different inherent quality is another. The right to life is the most fundamental human right (the US practice of execution notwithstanding). I decline to accept any justification for the loss of human life on the basis of nationality and geographic location.