Fourteen members of Cambodia's nascent Anti-Corruption Unit were sworn in Tuesday, vowing to use their full legal rights to investigate the country's graft problem.
Members include senior government adviser Om Yientang, who is the head of the unit, and his three deputies, Seang Borath, Chay Svauth and Nuon Phal.
“We have full legal rights to make corruption investigations,” Om Yientang told reporters after the ceremony, which was held at the national Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh. “We can now start to investigate complaints, confidential information and cooperation from various informants.”
The Anti-Corruption Unit was formed under a new anti-graft law, which administration officials have touted as an attack on corruption, but which critics say lacks the teeth to tackle the widespread problem.
All 14 members of the unit swore to uphold their duties or “face miserable damage or destruction and death, separated in the next life from our beloved parents, brothers, sisters and children and facing extreme poverty.”
“We will implement our profession as judicial police with dignity, conscience, loyalty, honest, humanity, independence, with respect for the constitution and the laws of the Kingdom of Cambodia forever,” the unit pledged.
Uk Savuth, who presided over the ceremony as prosecutor-general of the Appeals Court, said the unit was now empowered to arrest lawbreakers. But he warned the unit to “greatly increase” its legal capabilities in order to maintain the laws recently passed by the National Assembly.
But he also said the unit should act with humanity, to deeply interpret a case and act morally, such as delaying the arrest of a serious ill or pregnant offender.
“When we see wrong, we speak of the wrong,” he said. “When we see right, we speak of the right. We do not make decisions with rancor, incitement or hate. We implement the laws to serve justice for all, because a victim needs justice, and an offender also needs justice.”