Japan Ambassador-led team meets CIABOC - 21 March 2024

A pivotal meeting took place between the Chairman, Commissioners, and Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) and the Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mizukoshi Hideaki, along with Second Secretary Kaori Imai. Also in attendance were representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA).

The session commenced with CIABOC providing an overview of its work, particularly focusing on its enhanced capabilities under the new Anti-Corruption Act No. 9 of 2023. Emphasis was placed on the Commission's expanded mandate and the imminent need to operationalize its functions effectively. Noteworthy aspects included the Commission's increased independence and priority areas such as restructuring and the establishment of an Electronic Asset Declaration System. Gratitude was extended to the Japanese government for its support in these endeavors.

Discussions during the meeting covered various pertinent topics. Firstly, the significance of deterrence in combating bribery and corruption was deliberated, with a spotlight on CIABOC's role in investigating and prosecuting complaints, including its authority to initiate investigations ex mero moto. The Japanese delegation shared insights from Japan, illustrating how the mere initiation of an investigation can have far-reaching effects, citing a local proverb highlighting societal repercussions – the punishment of one will warn 200 others.

Furthermore, the conversation underscored the importance of preventive measures in identifying governance weaknesses and addressing corruption vulnerabilities. CIABOC highlighted its authority under Section 40 of the new Act to advise and compel public authorities to adopt anti-corruption measures, stressing the necessity of robust systems to prevent opportunities to circumvent formal procedures.

His Excellency the Ambassador emphasized the critical role of anti-corruption measures in sustaining business relationships between Sri Lanka and Japan, ensuring the integrity of markets and preserving mutual benefits.

UNDP and JAICA representatives outlined the support they would provide to CIABOC, with UNDP referencing a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Sri Lanka and Japan aimed at enhancing anti-corruption efforts. They elaborated on the technical assistance to be rendered, while JAICA highlighted capacity-building programs conducted with CIABOC officers and other complementary projects aligning with the Commission's objectives.

The meeting concluded with CIABOC expressing gratitude through a token of appreciation to the Government of Japan for its unwavering support in strengthening anti-corruption initiatives in Sri Lanka.

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