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UN Treaty to Back China's Crackdown on Corruption

The Convention Against Corruption, recently adopted by the UN General Assembly, will have an active influence on China's fight against corruption, with many of its articles relevant to the country's judicial practices.

The landmark convention, the world's first anti-corruption treaty, makes a major breakthrough by requiring member states to return assets obtained through corruption to the country from which they were stolen.

"The convention brings new ideas about ways of dealing with assets stolen by offenders and makes comprehensive stipulations on conditions, procedures and methods of returning these assets," said Chen Zhengyun, a jurist with the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

"It also impels us to study domestic legal mechanisms of tracing corrupt fugitives and retrieving stolen assets in accordance with the treaty, which will help enhance the efficiency of punishing corrupt criminals," Chen said.

Doctor Chen, who participated in the convention drafting as a Chinese delegate, pointed out that corruption, in recent years, has increasingly surfaced as organized and trans-national crime.

"It's quite common now for corrupt officials to abscond or divert stolen funds to other countries, which has grown to be a great obstacle to the fight against corruption for many countries," Chen said.

Chen said the new convention improves and reinforces provisions regarding extradition and international cooperation, which will facilitate the arrest and penalty of the fugitives.

The treaty also highlighted comprehensive prevention strategies against corruption, in addition to resolute crackdown efforts.

The treaty calls on member governments to establish special organs preventing corruption crimes, to insist on transparency in public administration, and to strengthen management of civil servants and non-elected government officials with fixed rules valuing fairness, honesty and accountability.

It is also notable that the treaty encourages the public to take part in the anti-corruption campaign and emphasizes the role of the judiciary, which is key to the fight against corruption.

"These strategies should be embodied as references in China's anti-corruption practices," Chen said.

The convention also stipulates that any entity or individual, whose legal rights or interests are impaired by corruption, is entitled to claim indemnity.

"It's a good addition to China's judicial practices, as there has not yet been a single lawsuit leveled by victims in corruption cases for compensation in the country," Chen said.

The convention, which took 130 UN member delegations two years to draft, has 71 articles covering topics that include public procurement, bribery, illicit enrichment, embezzlement, misappropriation, money-laundering, protecting whistle-blowers, freezing of assets and cooperation between states.

To open for signatures in Merida, Mexico from Dec. 9 to 11, it will enter into force 90 days after 30 ratification.

Jurists consider that it complements another treaty, the United Nations Convention against Trans-national Organized Crime, which took force on Sept. 29. That treaty requires ratifying countries to cooperate with each other in combating money laundering, organized crime and human trafficking.

(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2003)

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