The fight must be comprehensive and persistent: PM Houenipwela

Members of civil society march to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to deliver a petition on retabling the Anti-Corruption Bill on September 19th 2017.

The fight against corruption must be comprehensive and persistent, says Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.

Committing the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 to its second reading in Parliament today, Mr Hou said unlike other criminal offences, corruption is secretive and normally operates and thrives in the dark, making it harder to prove a corruption allegation.

He said it is against this backdrop that the Government is considering a three-pronged approach in the fight against corruption.

“This three-pronged approach focuses on, one; the need to skillfully investigate corruption allegations and successfully prosecute them, two; the need to provide preventative measures through public education and training, and three; the need for Government to work in coalition with the private sector, civil society and the international community in the fight against corruption.”

Mr Hou added, the establishment of a new body to effectively deal with corruption under the proposed Bill is paramount..

“We need to develop and build up the capacity of a specialized body to investigate and prosecute corruption. The nature and sophistication of the work of SICAC does not necessarily fit into the mandates of existing institutions like the Leadership Code Commission, the Ombudsman or the Police” he said.

“It is justifiable therefore to establish SICAC to skillfully investigate and successfully prosecute corruption.”

Meanwhile, Chair of the Parliamentary Bills and Legislative Committee honorable Mathew Wale describes the Anti Corruption Bill 2017 as ‘defective’.

Contributing to the Anti Corruption Bill debate, Mr Wale said the bill does not have tough provisions for the defense of custom and other necessary aspects that would make an impact in the country’s fight against corruption.

“It is defective and could have been stronger in the key aspects that could have demonstrate a zero tolerance in the fight against corruption. The approach is not one of zero tolerance” he said.

“It is clear there is weak political will to have the best possible legislation to confront this disgorge in our midst. This is evidence in the weak provisions on unjust enrichment and the pretensions of an unnecessary clause six in the bill.”

Wale said the Bill will not give Solomon Islands a clean slate, rather it is offering a step towards a new chapter in a journey to a more open and responsible government and society.

He is optimistic the bill will pass soon.

Debate on the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 continues half-past 9 tomorrow morning.

By: Rickson Bau and Charlie Salini 

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