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Identifying feasible actions to strengthen integrity for law enforcement in Viet Nam

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 26 November 2015 - Corruption remains a significant obstacle in a number of Southeast Asian countries. It can be encountered throughout the process of harvesting and manufacturing illegal wood based products, migrant smuggling and working illegally, amongst other crimes. In addition, corruption often facilitates transnational organized crime moving goods across borders and laundering money.

Transnational organized crime has a significant impact on development, made clear by the fact that every year the equivalent of about 90 billion USD is lost to organized crime and related corruption in the East Asia and Pacific region. Organized criminal groups rely on legitimate infrastructure such as roads, banks, and border crossings to move their illicit goods and money, and this is facilitated by varying levels of corruption at every step along the way.

To work towards overcoming this challenge, a roundtable meeting was held to identify priorities and actions that will strengthen integrity in law enforcement. The meeting "Combating Transnational Organized Crime, Mechanisms for Law Enforcement and Strengthening Integrity" provided an open forum for law enforcement officers, anti-corruption officials, and national and international experts, to discuss reforms the will catalyze a more effective response to corruption in the Vietnamese law enforcement sector. The meeting was co-hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Supreme People's Procuracy of Viet Nam, in collaboration with the United States Embassy, the British Embassy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"Corruption is causing huge losses to State assets, degrading morality amongst public servants, and leading to the erosion of public confidence in governance," said Ms. Hoang Thi Tham, Manager of the Department for Prosecution and Supervision over Investigation of Corruption and Position Abuse Cases in the Supreme People's Procuracy of Viet Nam. "We recognize that fighting and preventing corruption is an urgent and important task that requires the engagement of the entire political system and society."

The discussions raised several major issues requiring attention, such as a low rate of asset recovery in corruption cases, limitations of the legal framework and weak supervision mechanisms covering the assets, incomes and transactions of politically exposed people. Participants also identified potential actions and reforms to help improve the performance of anti-corruption efforts, including administrative and legal reforms, strengthening cross-border communication and information sharing, and increasing the capacity and accountability of agencies with an anti-corruption mandate.

The meeting also highlighted best practices to strengthen public complaints mechanisms as a social prevention approach to promote integrity in law enforcement in Viet Nam. An expert from Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr. Nor Azmi Karim, shared a case study on Malaysia's experience in expanding and upgrading its public complaints system to better address corruption issues.

In the sidelines of the roundtable meeting, national and international experts also discussed opportunities to leverage the Government of Viet Nam to undertake reforms and to identify realistic actions to move forward in combating corruption in law enforcement.