YANGON— In the latest move to tackle the country’s deep-rooted corruption problem, the new anti-graft commission handed over to the police a list of 12 fugitives wanted on corruption charges, most of whom worked in the law-enforcement sector. The list, which includes two judges, a lawyer, a public prosecutor, the head of a police station, and two administrators, was published on the Myanmar Police Force website and Facebook page on Wednesday.
U Han Nyunt, a member of the anti-corruption commission, said the agency would now turn the cases over to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has the power to issue arrest warrants for the suspects, as the 12 were on the run and they had been publicly identified.
The police force’s announcement stated that the charges were brought against the 12 under Articles 56, 57 and 63 of the anti-corruption law and called for public cooperation.
The charges carry up to 10 years’ imprisonment for taking bribes while holding a political post or being in position of competent authority.
The anti-corruption commission was formed in February 2014 under the previous U Thein Sein government to enforce the 2013 anti-corruption law. It was on Nov. 23, 2017 with 11 members and chaired by retired minister of information U Aung Kyi.
Between then and the end of last month, the new commission has received a total 949 cases.
Despite Myanmar rising slightly in transparency rankings in recent years, it continues to face challenges in fighting corruption and is consistently ranked among the worst countries for the problem every year.
It ranked 130 out of 180 nations in a new report from graft watchdog Transparency International that was released on Wednesday. In 2016, it ranked 136th out of 176 nations, while in 2015 it ranked 147 out of 168.
“I would like to urge all of our citizens not to neglect and forgive the act of taking a bribe. We do need to work together with all of you to combat this malpractice. Fighting corruption is the duty of every citizen,” U Aung Kyi said at a “Promote Integrity to Counter Corruption” paper-reading ceremony held in Yangon on Jan. 22 and 23.
He also said that the commission aimed to engage with civil society in order to work together in combating bribery.
Under the current anti-corruption law, the anti-graft commission is not authorized to take action against officials suspected of wrongdoing unless someone files a complaint.