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ACU pushes whistleblower, witness protection laws

The headquarters of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in Phnom Penh, as seen last year.
The headquarters of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in Phnom Penh, as seen last year. Pha Lina

ACU pushes whistleblower, witness protection laws

Draft laws to protect whistleblowers and witnesses are expected to be completed by the end of the year, it was announced yesterday at a workshop to solicit public input on the legislation.

Held at the Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters, the event, which continues today, invited NGO representatives, lawyers, parliamentarians and senators to provide their suggestions on the laws, which are being drafted by the ACU.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, which has been pushing the legislation, said any draft needed to include details on the procedures to protect those who expose or testify against wrongdoing. A well-funded body to enforce the laws once adopted is also vital.

“We have to provide them with enough means and money and create a mechanism to adequately implement it,” he said.

ACU chief Om Yentieng said the witness protection law would apply across the board, not just for corruption cases.

The director of the Kingdom’s bar association, Bun Hun, said drafting a law was an important “first step” and would greatly help in the prosecution of sensitive corruption and drug cases.

However, he also called for adequate cash to be provided to protect witnesses, compensate them for any loss of time and, in sensitive cases, send them abroad.

“In some cases, witnesses do not dare to testify because they’re concerned for their safety, fear for their life or worry it will affect their interests,” he said.

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