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Deterring Fraud by Informing the Public

Deterring Fraud by Informing the Public: IFJ-OLAF Seminar on Anti-Fraud Communication

In cooperation with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is organising a seminar for members of the European Anti Fraud Communicators’ Network (OAFCN), which comprises Spokespersons and Heads of Communications of OLAF’s partner services in the EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The main topic of the seminar will be how to ensure a good working relationship between law enforcement agencies investigating cases of fraud, corruption and other illegal activity damaging the financial interests of the EU and the media reporting on the cases.

Communication can help to uncover cases of fraud, corruption and other illegal activity damaging the financial interests of the European Community about which EU citizens have a right to know. Communication can also help to deter and prevent illegal acts by raising awareness and promoting public debate. In this context, journalists and the media not only play a pivotal role as purveyors of information about offences and measures taken to combat fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity damaging the financial interests of the EU; they also act as public watchdogs. For their part, law enforcement agencies are under an obligation to cooperate with the media, always in accordance with the law and absolute respect for individual rights.

In this spirit, the IFJ and OLAF are jointly preparing the next seminar of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) on 28 October, in Brussels, where IFJ representatives and spokespersons of OLAF’s partner services in the EU Member States and Candidate Countries will analyse ways of improving cooperation. They will also try to identify how, in a spirit of a mutual respect and trust, to disseminate and present information related to fraud cases in a way that complies with EU law and the national legislation of the Member States and Candidate Countries and responds to the public’s need for information.

OLAF and representatives of journalists’ associations have been involved in an exchange of ideas on anti-fraud communication since 2004. A round table held in November last year on “Deterring fraud by informing the public,” which involved journalists and representatives of the IFJ and the International Press Association (IPA-API) of Brussels correspondents, has recently been summarised in a booklet under the same title with a foreword by Mr Siim KALLAS, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud.

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