The head of the newly established Anticorruption Unit has said that investigations of more than 20 graft cases involving government officials had resulted in “several” offenders being identified, but that the body would not pursue any prosecutions until the end of next year.
Om Yentieng, who is also a senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and chairman of the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee, said no arrests would be possible until new legislation comes into effect about 12 months from now.
“We could not arrest individual corrupt officials and send them to court while we are waiting for the new Law on Anticorruption, which will be implemented by the end of the year 2011,” he said.
“The Criminal Code will be officially implemented by December this year, and the Law on Anticorruption will be put in place 12 months after.”
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said there was no excuse for the ACU to wait for the new penal code to come into effect before prosecuting offenders.
He argued that offenders could be punished immediately under the UNTAC Criminal Code
The delay in pursuing prosecutions, he said, was indicative of the government’s lack of “political will” to confront high-level graft.
“What they have done so far is to try to show that they are serious about curbing corruption, but in fact they have not done anything,” he said.