Could changes to the Criminal Code help fight corruption?

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Ten years ago, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) was established to fight corruption. MPs, heads of state organizations, legal scholars and specialists, experienced lawyers, former legislators, and members of the public discussed the progress and challenges facing the fight against corruption, during a national anti-corruption forum that was held last week to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the IAAC’s establishment.

The forum’s attendees pointed out that according to reports from international independent studies, corruption per capita in Mongolia is high and that corruption in the health and education sectors rates high in reports from Mongolian  researchers and government officials.

They concluded that state authorities and the public need to focus on the implementation of amendments to laws which allow monitoring legislators, as well as the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Program (NACP) approved by Parliament in October 2016.

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index published annually by Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, Mongolia ranked 83 out of 177 countries, and scored 38 out of 100 points on the index in 2013. Mongolia ranked 80 out of 175 countries with 39 points in 2014, and ranked 72 out of 168 countries with a score of 39 in 2015.

Mongolia’s corruption rating has been lowered by only one point over the past three years. This data was acknowledged by Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold in a briefing regarding corruption in Mongolia.

Head of the IAAC’s Research and Analysis Division D.Dulamsuren stated that everybody has to understand that the state must provide public services without a focus on  profits, and that when people have to file state paperwork, they always look for someone who they can pay to help avoid bureaucracy. She said that changing these circumstances is of great importance to fighting corruption.

How is corruption fought through laws and regulations?

MPs are reviewing amendments to the Criminal Code that would increase penalties for state officials engaged in corruption.

During a parliamentary session held last week, Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs S.Byambatsogt highlighted that the amendments outline that a state official found guilty of engaging in corruption will be sentenced to two to six years in prison, and after being released from prison, they will be banned from working in the public sector for two to five years.

Member of Parliament M.Oyunchimeg asked Minister S.Byambatsogt if international legislative practices were included in the amendments. The Minister noted that according to the current Criminal Code, people who offer and accept bribes are all considered to be criminal offenders, but the new version of the Criminal Code outlines that only those who accept bribes will be sentenced.

Minister S.Byambatsogt said that this new section was copied from Singapore’s law on fighting corruption. He added that there should be clear legislation concerning bribery and the people who take bribes.

During the session, some legislators proposed a lifetime ban from public service for a state official found guilty of engaging in corruption.

Speaker M.Enkhbold said that Mongolia should join the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. The Speaker noted that increasing state, civic, and media participation and assistance will effectively impact the implementation of the NACP, but that Parliament and the IAAC have the greatest responsibilities concerning the program.

A large number of entrepreneurs and business owners contribute a lot of money to political parties to influence decisions made for their benefit, to influence selection for tenders put forward by state organizations, to buy nominations for elections, or to get good government positions.

Some politicians have put forward proposals to set budgetary limits for political parties to change this network of political corruption, and to make political party financing transparent.

Exposing high-level cases of corruption raises public awareness about corruption, so the IAAC needs to investigate the massive network of political corruption and unravel it before the people. Active investigation by the IAAC is of significant importance to fighting political corruption.

Improving the auditing of state budget spending, monitoring tenders put forward by state organizations, strengthening cooperation between judiciary and law enforcement authorities, and improving the state’s transparency and accountability are key to fighting corruption.

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