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Monday, September 27, 2010

Corruption battle has begun: govt

THE newly established National Anticorruption Commission has established a five-year plan to fight corruption in Cambodia, and has said that it is in the process of investigating 10 complaints against government officials.

NAC spokesman Keo Remy said the Anticorruption Unit, the NAC’s investigative arm, had made significant progress during its roughly three months in operation.

“We have started our work and we don’t want to give detailed information that exposes the investigative procedure, but right now, senior officials at the ACU have started examining all of the complaints,” Keo Remy said.

The five-year plan, Keo Remy said, included such previously announced measures as anticorruption education, forced public-asset disclosures by government officials and the establishment of a website to publicise the work of the ACU.

Om Yentieng, head of the ACU, said in July that as many as 100,000 officials could be required to declare their assets.

On Monday anti-corruption officials met representatives from civil society organisations to discuss the process of filing complaints with the ACU.

The Kingdom ranked 158 out of 180 in anti-graft group Transparency International’s world corruption index last year.
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Boy, 16, convicted of sleeping with a 14 year old

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has sentenced a 16-year-old boy to four years in prison after finding him guilty of having sex with a 14-year-old girl twice at a guest house in Daun Penh district’s Psar Thmey commune in April.

Huot Ly Hour, 16, was arrested on April 27 from a local guest house after the girl’s parents lodged a complaint with police.

The complaint accused the boy of sleeping with their underage daughter the night before.

Presiding judge Din Sivuthy also ordered Huot Ly Hour to pay 16 million riels (US$3,809) in compensation to the victim.

Defence lawyer Ong Sileth said the decision was unjust, and that the court lacked the evidence to convict her client.

“There was no family document that specified the girl’s exact age,” she said. “She said at the police station that she was 16, but then told an investigating judge that she was 14.”

She said that her client would decide whether to lodge an appeal against the verdict.

During a September 10 hearing, the 16-year-old confessed to having sex with the girl, though he said that the pair were “sweethearts” who had been seeing each other for more than a month before his arrest.

“I had sex with her twice in separate guesthouses with mutual consent,” he said.

He told the court that the night before he was arrested, he drove the girl to the riverside to hang out and eat, before taking her to a guesthouse where he asked her to stay overnight.

“The girl was afraid to go home because she feared that her parents would be angry; that’s why she agreed to spend the night with me,” he said.
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Cambodia sets out plans to fight corruption

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia on Monday laid out plans to tackle graft in one of the world's most corrupt nations, in an attempt to reassure foreign investors.

The National Council for Anti-Corruption, a new body, said it had adopted a five-year plan that would include mandatory asset declarations for more than 100,000 state officials.

Council spokesman Keo Remy said the asset declarations would start early next year.

Cambodia was ranked 158th worst out of 180 countries on anti-graft organisation Transparency International's most recent corruption perception index.

It was also ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian nation after Indonesia in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy earlier this year.

Keo Remy told AFP that the council aims to improve "the national economy and the standard of living for the people, as well as to gain confidence for foreign investment."

Rampant corruption has harmed the country's image in the eyes of foreign investors and donors.
In an effort to change a culture of corruption that has permeated levels of society, the council said it wants to organise anti-graft lessons in schools and universities across the country.

It also plans to launch ways for the public to report corruption and extortion attempts by government officials, such as a hotline and a website.

"Under our crackdown nobody will be forgiven for corruption," Keo Remy said.

In March, the government approved a long-awaited anti-corruption law that could see officials jailed for up to 15 years if convicted of accepting bribes.

The law allowed for the creation of the anti-corruption council and an anti-corruption unit to oversee investigations, but critics said it was unlikely either body would be effective because both would be controlled by the ruling party.
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