The number of online complaints filed with Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) dropped from 114 in 2016 to 105 last year.
Most of the complaints reported online pertained to abuse of functions followed by embezzlement and misuse of public properties, according to ACC Commissioner Jamtsho.
The option to lodge online complaints was started as an alternative mode for the educated lot who have access to internet. “We learnt about the need for such an option from prevailing international best practices then and also from the then UNDP consultant,” said Jamtsho.
According to him, while all the complaints lodged online may not have qualified for investigation, they served various purposes.
He feels that the complaints have been one of the basis of public education and prevention. “There are also many instances wherein complaints shared for action and sensitization have led to administrative actions like recovery of money, levying of fines, warning, reprimand or even termination from services.”
Irrespective of the mode of complaint lodged, a complainant or informer who knowingly gives any false or misleading information with malicious intent will be guilty of an offence and liable under section 80 of the Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) of Bhutan 2011.
“ACC’s main challenge is that it is difficult to ascertain identity of the complainant as section 78 (2) of ACA 2011 mandates ACC to receive anonymous complaints,” said the Commissioner.
Meanwhile, the online complaints are managed like any other complaints through other modes.
The web mail is opened by two officers every morning and the number of complaints received, number of genuine complaints, number of repeated complaints, and number of spam are all recorded in prescribed form and signed and filed for future record as well as future audit.
Genuine complaints are then registered in Complaints and Investigation Management System (CIMS). Thereafter, every Tuesday, Complaints Evaluation Committee (CEC) meets to review and segregate complaints by offence and type and recommends actions on the complaints. Every Thursday, the commission reviews complaints and recommended action and renders final decision on the complaints.
The commissioner shared that ACC does not entertain reports about matrimonial disputes and grievances against judgment of courts and administrative reprisals, which are not related to corruption. And the complainant’s identity and liability will be protected as per the witness protection sections under chapter 7 of the ACA 2011.
ACC started the system of receiving complaints as early as 2006 along with the development of the ACC website. Although ACC’s website was launched in April 2006, records maintained with the commission indicate that the first online complaint was received on March 22, 2006 through Royal Audit Authority fraud alert system and the second on April 15, 2006.
Pema Seldon from Thimphu