Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Whistleblower law in the works, ACU says

Whistleblower law in the works, ACU says

Whistleblower law in the works, ACU says

The Anti-Corruption Unit has announced the drafting of new laws on whistleblowing and witness protection to safeguard those calling out crime and extortion at the highest levels.

The ACU in November 2014 unveiled plans for specific whistleblower legislation, but according to ACU president Om Yentieng, the unit will next month assemble a committee to begin drafting laws encompassing broader witness protection measures in relation to criminal offences – a task formerly assigned to the Ministry of Justice.

“We are now preparing to gather partners from government and independent bodies as well as civil society and the private sector to work together on this law,” he said.

Yentieng added that the laws are intended to draw social attention to witness protection guarantees in cases including drug abuse, terrorism and human trafficking.

The new measures will also bring national laws into compliance with the UN Convention Against Corruption while addressing perceived deterrents in the existing Penal Code.

“In the current legal context, whistle blowers are facing significant risks,” Pech Pisey, director of programs at the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, which welcomed the proposed laws, said in an email.

“Because of . . . defamation provisions contained under the Penal Code, people are hesitant to report and/or be a witness of corruption cases or any other criminal cases due to the fear of retaliation, fines and possibly imprisonment.”

Would-be witnesses may also be dissuaded by Article 41 of the current anti-corruption law, which allows for the imprisonment of anyone filing a complaint against corruption that is deemed to lead to a “useless inquiry”.

As Pisey notes, administrative efforts to overturn such outdated clauses and draft new protections will need to be coupled with rigorous law-enforcement.

“ACU should also create [a] proper administrative mechanism and implementation guidelines to shield the informer from any physical, social and economic retaliation,” he says.

Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer and legal consultant, said that if properly implemented, the new mechanisms could also mean easier indictments of officials.

“In the current system, in any investigation by the government, the court always accepts the word of officials as the truth,” he said. “Often, people want to give information to the ACU, but they are concerned and scared to see the accused.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the