25 November 2008

Proposed law to establish the East Timor Anti-Corruption Commission


MEDIA RELEASE Dili, October 24, 2008

Proposed law to establish the Anti-Corruption Commission

Today Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao submitted a proposed law to the National Parliament to establish an independent Anti-Corruption Commission dedicated to fighting corruption in Timor-Leste.

The law was developed after a long consultation period with the People of Timor-Leste. This process included a National Consultation conducted by LABEH, covering the whole country, where the People emphatically called for the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission.

Prime Minister Gusmão said 'It is now time for action, to make sure that corruption does not pay in Timor-Leste.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will make sure that anyone who engages in corrupt acts can be investigated and will face strong penalties, including jail and the confiscation of anything they have obtained corruptly.'

'We need to take strong measures and this bold step will make sure that corruption does not take root in our democracy. This is what the People of Timor-Leste deserve.' Prime Minister Gusmao said.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will have a mandate to:

• conduct investigations into acts of corruption
• provide evidence to the Prosecutor General for prosecution of corruption cases
• carry out education campaigns
• provide advice to all public departments and agencies on how to prevent corruption.
• initiate asset recovery actions to recover proceeds of corruption.

Importantly, the Anti-Corruption Commission will have strong investigative powers. It will have the right of access to documents and buildings and the power to require people to answer questions about allegations of corruption. The Anti-Corruption Commission, in conjunction with the Prosecutor General, and with approval of a Court, will also have powers to:

• freeze bank accounts
• seize assets
• prevent suspects from leaving Timor-Leste
• intercept and record electronic communications, including monitoring of phone calls and emails.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will be an independent body reporting to the National Parliament. The Commissioner, as head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, will have to be nominated by three quarters of the Members of the National Parliament and appointed by the President of the Republic. To be eligible, the Commissioner will need to be a person of proven integrity and recognised for his or her high level of independence and impartiality to be eligible.

Prime Minister Gusmao said “The rules that govern selection of the anti-corruption Commissioner will make sure that the person is of the highest competence and integrity, a person above party politics.”

The proposed law will operate from 1 January 2009 and the Anti-Corruption Commission will have the mandate to investigate allegations of corrupt acts committed after this date.

For more information, please contact Agio Pereira, spokesperson for the Government, on tel. +670723 0011 or agiopereira@cdm.gov.tl.

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