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Authorities to protect citizens who stand up in fight against corruption

Update: December, 10/2014 - 09:46
Representatives from the Government Inspectorate and UN Office attend the meeting in Ha Noi on December 9. — Photo dantri.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam would further protect whistleblowers and provide more incentives for them to come forward to increase the public's trust, Huynh Phong Tranh, head of the Government Inspectorate, said yesterday.

The Government Inspectorate and UN offices held a forum on preventing and fighting corruption yesterday to celebrate International Anti-Corruption Day. Legislation protecting whistleblowers can be one of the most effective tools in that fight, Zhuldyz Akisheva, country director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said at the event.

This includes providing incentives and protection from retaliation to people with useful information, to give them a reason to come forward, Akisheva said. It also means allowing them to report to external channels – including the media and civil society organisations.

"There's no ‘forbidden zone' in preventing and fighting corruption," Tranh said. "We want to increase the public's trust in the fight against corruption, and show them it is a priority of the Government and the Party."

Bakhodir Burkhanov, deputy country director of the UN Development Programme in Viet Nam, said at the forum that corruption concerned the whole world, because it was found in all countries, regardless of economic status.

"Evidence shows that it hurts poor people disproportionately," he said.

The UN decided on this year's theme, "breaking the chain of corruption," to draw attention to the need for everyone to get involved in the fight: government, civil society, the private sector, the media, the general public and young people.

The Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Index found that one in four Vietnamese citizens think corruption is the most serious socio-economic issue, Burkhanov said.

A lack of trust

Studies have shown that many Vietnamese people fear denouncing corruption and reporting misconduct due to a lack of trust in the system and fears of retaliation, said Dao Nga, the executive director of Transparency International in Viet Nam.

Also, existing regulations protecting whistleblowers in Viet Nam are quite general and difficult to implement, Nga said.

A chapter in the revised Law on Anti-Corruption, passed in 2012, focuses on the role of anti-corruption policies in society. The Law on Complaints and Denunciations, amended in 2004 and 2005, serves as the basis for citizens to exercise their right to complain about and denounce misconduct.

Earlier this month, Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 ranked Viet Nam 119th out of 175 countries and territories. Its position hasn't changed for the past three years. The list scores nations on "how corrupt their public sectors are seen to be," according to the organisation's website.

Corruption in the public sector remains a serious problem in Viet Nam, according to the index.

Tranh, head of the Government Inspectorate, said the ranking stood in line with the situation on the ground, but that Viet Nam was not satisfied and vowed to improve. — VNS

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