Dec 5, 2010


Graft Arrest A Good Star

  • Dec 5, 2010
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  • Cambodians say a new anti-corruption law needs better enforcement and more arrests should follow. 

    Cambodian non-governmental groups have welcomed the first arrest of a high-profile official on alleged bribery charges by the country’s new anti-corruption task force, but warned that the "big fish" should not be spared in the drive to root out graft in one of the world’s most crooked governments.

    Om Yin Tieng, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, this week announced the Nov. 29 arrest of Top Chansereyvuth, the head prosecutor of Cambodia’s western Pursat province, on charges of accepting U.S. $8,000 in bribes from illegal loggers.
    Top Chansereyvuth was also accused of extortion and illegal detention, along with his bodyguards Khun Sokna and Yu. A third accomplice, El Vanak, eluded authorities.
    A senior government advisor Om Yentieng and head of the ACU, told reporters Wednesday that the 30 agents from the Ministry of Finance’s taxation unit had overcharged vehicle owners as much as $1.20 per annual registration tag. They will face with the loss of their job, after an investigation. 
    At the Dec. 1 press briefing, Om Yin Tieng vowed that his unit would continue to crack down on corruption in the country according to a new law enacted in March.
    Mam Sitha, president of the Cambodian Independent Anti-Corruption Committee, a non-governmental group, said the arrest was a strong sign that the government plans to take action on graft.
    “This action should be effective in the long term,” she added.
    Am Sam Arth, an investigator with the local human rights organization LICADHO, called the arrest “a good start” that will lead to increased public confidence in the unit.
    He added that the arrest also sends a message to other court officials across the country that corruption will not be tolerated.
    “Court officials cannot just act arbitrarily without punishment. The Anti-Corruption Unit should investigate all officials, regardless of their seniority in the government, in order to provide fair treatment for all,” he said.

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