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Less transparent anti-corruption draft defended on basis of right to privacy

Nov 10. 2017
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By The Nation

Constitution Drafting Commissions spokesperson Chartchai Na Chiangmai has said that the CDC decided to write the National Anti-Corruption Commission bill, including clauses to not reveal the complete assets reports of political holders when taking office as it had to balance transparency to prevent corruption with an individual’s rights to privacy.

Chartchai rejected the notion that this would compromise the transparency secured in the old law, which requires political holders taking or leaving office to report their assets, which would be later released in detail to the public.

Chartchai told the Nation the NACC is given authority by the new charter to handle the issue, including determining who must report their assets. By law, the NACC would be required to scrutinise the assets in detail and safeguard the information in case irregularities occur.

Given that power of asset scrutiny being handed them under the new bill, the CDC considered how to balance that with an individual’s right to privacy and fair treatment.

Individuals are required by law to report their assets and they are not accused of wrongdoing, so there should be “appropriate” revelation of their assets, said Chartchai. Their assets under the new law would be publicly available only in a summary form, he said.

Chartchai rejected the suggestion that the clauses would benefit those now in power. The new law would impact only newcomers, he said. But if people left office they would be required to report their assets, which would be revealed to the public in detail in a similar way as under the old law, Chartchai said.

The issue emerged after the bill had passed the National Legislative Assembly’ first reading, and was now under scrutiny by the NLA’s law vetting committee.

Anti-corruption advocates said that the clauses, including Article 104, would allow only rough reports of assets of political holders to the public, in contrast to the current law that allows public access to detailed reports. The current approach was seen by anti-corruption experts as helping keep political holders in check and transparent.

Chartchai said it’s up to the committee, whether they would rewrite the controversial clause.

The committee would have 58 days to scrutinise the bill before it is deliberated by the NLA in its second and third readings, before being promulgated into law.

The NACC law is one of the 10 organic laws required by the new charter and expected by anti-corruption advocates as a critical tool to suppress corruption, one of the critical goals set by the junta since it took power in 2014.

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