Judges push for ‘greater punishments’ for those in public office who ‘hide their wealth’

In the wake of the Marquês bombshell last Friday, judges are reported to be renewing efforts to try and rein in the image that Portugal is filled with public servants on the take. Up till now the Constitutional Court has rejected laws against ‘illicit enrichment’, and diplomas using terms like ‘unjustified enrichment’ or even ‘incongruous enrichment’. Thus now ASJP (the association of Portuguese judges) is aiming at a different kind of wording, along the lines of ‘reinforcing the protection of transparency in the exercise of public functions through improvement of mechanisms foreseen in the Law of Declarative Obligations for declaring assets of holders of high public office, with criminal liability in the case of non-compliance’. Very slowly change is creeping forwards. Indeed PSD leader Rui Rio gave a speech yesterday in which he said justice has to be brought up to date in order to be seen to be working.