Calls for Swift Introduction of Whistle-Blower Protection Law

A government plan to introduce long-awaited legislation that will protect whistle-blowers in corruption cases was on Thursday lauded by members of the opposition CNRP and civil society, who expressed hope that the law would come into force swiftly.

Following a meeting with the National Assembly’s anti-corruption commission on Wednesday, Om Yentieng, chairman of the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), told reporters that the body would draft a new law on the protection of whistle-blowers and witnesses in graft cases.

The existing anti-corruption law states that the ACU should “take necessary measures to keep the whistle-blowers secure,” but also says that individuals may face punishment, including imprisonment, for filing complaints deemed defamatory or prompting a “useless inquiry” by the anti-graft body.

CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua described the proposed law as “very, very necessary,” but said she would remain skeptical about it coming to fruition until it was implemented.

“I won’t believe it until I see it,” she said. “Where is the draft? And if they talk about it, they should be talking about it with other people, especially the public and those who are experts.”

Pech Pisey, director of programs at Transparency International in Cambodia, said he was pleased about Mr. Yentieng’s announcement, but urged the ACU to “push forward with it quickly.”

“We stand ready to provide any technical support that makes sure the law will be adopted at a standard that will be accepted by all,” he said.

The anti-corruption law first entered the legislative process in 1994, but its passage was repeatedly delayed until March 2010, when it was finally approved by the National Assembly.

Contacted Thursday, ACU vice chairman Chhay Savuth declined to say when the body would begin drafting the new law or when it might be handed over to the National Assembly for consideration.

“We haven’t drafted it yet. It is just a plan,” he said. “We are a law practitioner, so when the law has loopholes, we have to close them.”

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