30 Sep - 6 Oct 2016 #828

Blackmailing academia

Editorial in Kantipur, 28 September


The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has once again overstepped its mandate, this time to smear Social Science Baha and the Alliance for Social Dialogue (ASD) with unsubstantiated charges of ‘irregularities’. This fits the pattern with which the CIAA has been hounding other institutions and individuals in the past, the purpose of which seems to be to harm the credibility and the respect the Social Science Baha and the ASD have gained in intellectual circles.

The CIAA is not sanctioned to investigate private or non-government institutions, the Constitution only gives it the right to look into corruption by public officials. If there is a need to investigate an NGO, the right body to do that is the Social Welfare Council. But in clear violation of the Constitution, the CIAA has been looking into the activities of NGOs, banks and private sector entities which, just like the accusations against Social Science Baha and the ASD, are prejudiced. The CIAA has no business interfering with academic institutions whose job it is to use donor support to fund research and in academic exercise and to foster debate on public policy.

The CIAA has selectively used details contained in documents furnished by the ASD and Baha itself, and pretending that they were uncovered during investigations made the charges through a public statement. The CIAA has thus violated laws of protection of privacy with the intention to defame them. The role of thinktanks like the ASD and the Baha in supporting pluralism and generating ideas is important to address some of the distortions during this political transition to support the democratic process. It is unfortunate that a responsible state institution like the CIAA is seen to be against the values of democracy. The Commission should now apologise to the ASD, Baha and other organisations that it has been targeting, and to desist from repeating such activities in the future. 

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