EDITORIAL: More teeth for CIAA

CIAA is getting more legal teeth even to launch an inquiry on corruption in the private sector using public money as shares

If the new bills proposed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC),  are endorsed by Parliament, the constitutional anti-graft body will get more legal teeth even to investigate corruption that may take place in international agencies, financial institutions and corporate houses. The CIAA has recently prepared new draft bills on the CIAA (Amendment) Act, 1991 and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2002. The two bills will give the CIAA right to probe into employees of international agencies, banks and mega hydel projects, where the public have invested money through shares. Such a provision had been there before the new constitution came into force. However, the new constitution is silent on this issue. Hence, the CIAA is unable to take legal action against any officials working in the corporate houses, banks and international agencies. The CIAA has also proposed that it be given the jurisdiction to launch an inquiry over corruption committed by foreign individuals, international firms and employees associated with foreign institutions.

CIAA officials who wanted to be unnamed said they had drafted the two amendment bills in line with Nepal’s commitment to UNCAC. Nepal became a party to this convention in 2003, and it was ratified by Nepal’s Parliament only in 2011. The officials have claimed that the bills are in consistence with the UNCAN provisions. Besides, the bills have also proposed protecting the complainants and eyewitnesses. UNCAN has clearly stated that the member countries should enact laws to protect those who lodge such complaints and eyewitnesses who record their statement before the competent authorities. As per Article 22 of UNCAN, each state party shall consider adopting such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish criminal offense, when committed intentionally in the course of economic, financial or commercial activities, embezzlement by a person who directs or works in any capacity in a private sector entity of any property, private fund or securities or any other thing of value entrusted to him or her by virtue of his or her position.

The government recently endorsed these bills, which are now under discussion in the Cabinet’s Bill Committee, which is expected to forward them to the Parliament for consideration. The bills should greatly enhance good governance even in the private sector, which has used public money as shares and securities to further their businesses. There are many corporate houses, hydel projects and hotels, to name a few, which have collected shares from the public but have never held any AGM for years. People have lost billions of rupees in the private companies for lack of an overseeing mechanism. However, there is a caveat: the new bills can be grossly misused to take revenge against any corporate house using public money. The anti-graft body also lacks a strong institutional mechanism to launch a fair inquiry into corruption cases. It should thus enhance its institutional capacity to exercise the new rights as provisioned in the bills. Parliament must hold talks with the concerned stakeholders before enacting them into laws.

Organ transplant

A regulation endorsed three years ago should have ensured a good supply of human organs from brain-dead people. Unfortunately, this is not happening although Nepal’s hospitals now have the facility and the human resource to transplant a host of organs from a donor. Although people are signing up to donate their corneas following their death, the practice of donating other parts of the body has yet to catch up with the public. It is possible to harvest eight organs from a brain-dead person, namely, kidneys, lungs, corneas, heart, liver, pancreas, small intestine and skin.

According to the Police, more than 1,000 persons die in accidents each year, a good source of organs that will save many lives. But at the time of grief, how do you talk to and convince the family members to donate them? As the need for organ transplants, especially of the kidney and liver, keeps rising year after year, it is not possible for the patient to depend solely on a relative for them. Only awareness will convince family members to donate organs from a brain-dead person. This will also prevent patients from going abroad for organ transplants besides curbing the illegal trade in them.