But if ACC’s backlog cases were cleared, the OAG would be unable to effectively prosecute all 

ACC: The Transparency International (TI) a civil society that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development has commended Bhutan for its high rate of 92 percent in prosecution of corruption cases.

The TI report released on December 10 in Thimphu stated that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) completed investigation of 121 corruption cases in the last nine years, of which 73 were referred to the Office of Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution.

Of the total number of cases referred to the OAG, 67 were successfully prosecuted and the persons convicted.

However, the TI found that if ACC’s staff vacancies were filled and the backlog on investigations eliminated, it is likely that the OAG with its current strength of prosecutors would be unable to effectively prosecute all referred cases.

Although the prosecution rate is high, TI points out that the government should improve the OAG’s and ACC’s capacity to prosecute corruption cases considering the fact that there is a high backlog of cases for investigation.

If most of the cases that qualify for investigation were to be investigated, the present capacity of the OAG would not be able to prosecute many, the report stated.

It was found that only between 20 and 27 percent of the complaints that qualify for investigation were investigated in the last two years.

The report states, the ability of the OAG to prosecute corruption is constrained by its human resource. “It would be important to shore up the capacity as the ACC is strengthened, and begins to investigate all cases subject to investigation,” it states.

The report states it is likely that the number of cases for prosecution may increase as many as three times once all vacant integrity promotion officer positions in the ACC are filled and working properly.

As cases grow in number and become more complex, the specialization and seniority of prosecutors will also need developing. This means that prosecution should be enhanced not only in the OAG but also the ACC.

Executive Director of the Bhutan Transparency Initiative and TI’s local partner, Pema Lhamo said the report was the first independent report conducted by the Transparency International. The report was based on Bhutan’s policy and corruption context as well as exhaustive research and extended interviews with government officials among others.

MB Subba