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Cambodia parliament passes controversial anti-corruption bill

[JURIST] The Cambodian parliament [official website] passed a controversial anti-corruption bill Wednesday meant to further transparency in government while opposition parties staged a walkout, saying the new law would stifle criticism and foster corruption. The law will create a national anti-corruption council to oversee investigators, but critics have said that the lack of independence from the government is troubling. Members of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) [party website] and foreign NGOs criticized [Phnom Penh Post report] the law because it could potentially punish whistle blowers with prison terms, and does not require government officials and their spouses to disclose their assets. The UN mission in Cambodia [official website] released a statement [text] tentatively supporting the bill but calling on the government to allow more time for public debate.

Transparency International (TI) [advocacy website] has criticized Cambodian corruption, and the country is ranked [TI corruption index] near the top of the list of most corrupt countries in the world. Last year, the UN cut off funding for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website], a court set up to prosecute Khmer Rouge officials, after it was accused of corruption [JURIST report] through a kick-back scheme. The UN and Cambodian officials later failed to reach an agreement on a system to monitor corruption [JURIST report] and the court had to rely on international donations [JURIST report] to make up for the shortfall.

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