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Transparency International released its report on corruption and Cambodia’s Governance

Transparency International released its report on corruption and Cambodia’s Governance

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Transparency International launched its National Integrity System Assessment yesterday, September 9th, at the Raffle Hotel Le Royal.

The opening statement was made by Ms Anna Maj Hultgård, Ambassador of Sweden to Cambodia, who stated that not only corruption undermines the ability to give basic services but also increase the costs of doing business. The Ambassador also added that in the European Union, the cost of corruption is estimated to 120 billions and reiterated Sweden’s commitment in the fight against corruption.

Elizabeth Johnson, the project manager and lead author started by explaining the methodology used for the report and mentioned that in total, 76 interviews were made from experts of all backgrounds. The findings were then shared by Poch Pisal and the recommendations by Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia.

Among the key findings and recommendations, many are of particular interest to Destination Justice such as the following:

Among the institutions, the judiciary was found the weakest institution due to, among other things, insufficient resources and politicisation with lack of separation from the executive and the ruling party. Anti-corruption law loopholes have also been identified such as for instance, the possibility of imprisonment for the complainant of a corruption-related crime which constitutes a key obstacle in the fight against corruption.

Key recommendations are the following:

  1. the reform of the judiciary system and points of significance: the publication of court decisions as well as the reasons between them;
  2. the adoption of a law on access to information in order to ensure maximum disclosure of information and the application of the law to all persons indiscriminately; and
  3. the amendment of the law on anti-corruption.

The launch of the report was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Transparency International Cambodia’s Executive Director, Preap Kol and constituted of the following persons:

  1. Ms. Wan-Hea LEE, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia;
  2. Mr. Rath Sophoan, Chairman of Transparency International Cambodia;
  3. H.E. Mu Sochua, M.P. and Human Rights Advocate; and
  4. Ms. Thida Khus, Executive Director of the NGO Silaka.

The discussion focused on the report itself but also about the place of youth in society and some questions were asked by the members of the audience.

Ms. Lee, as a general comment, mentioned that among the problems with regards to the judiciary system, are the lack of resources (only 4.2% of the national budget is allocated to the judiciary system) and the weak legal framework. Challenges are therefore significant by itself and she stated that it is also hard to solve the problem when there is an organic system of corruption from bottom to top.

H.E. Sochua shared her view on the three recent judicial reform laws and stressed that the reform of the judicial system and the adoption of a law on access to information constitute key elements. Answering the questions from the assistance, Mrs Sochua shared CNRP’s point of view on how important it is for the three powers to be separate.

Silaka’s Executive Director, Thida Khus, mentioned that the executive body is not strong enough and unfortunately, is controlled by only one person. She also recognized that some laws are good but their implementation is not. She shared her thought on how she believed that everyone wants the good in general but the question is how to achieve the good.

Finally, all panelists shared the same view on how youth have an important role to play in the society and they have the power to change things.

The report is available on Transparency International Cambodia’s website.

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Tharinda is a member of the Quebec Bar (Canada). She has a good understanding of the African human rights system: she was the legal assistant to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. She also completed consultancy contracts for which she drafted a report on indigenous peoples’ rights in Cameroon and facilitated training sessions on the African human rights system. She also worked at UNHCR and covered many human rights treaty bodies meetings as well as UPR sessions. She is fluent in both French and English and also speaks Spanish and Khmer.