PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea government's decision not to water down the powers of the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption has been welcomed by community advocacy group Act Now!
Two-weeks ago Justice Minister Davis Steven said the government had amended draft legislation creating the ICAC to remove its powers of arrest and prosecution.
However, following concerns raised by Act Now! and other civil society groups, that the government was creating a “toothless monster”, Mr Steven announced the government would stick with the original 2015 ICAC bill with no revisions.
We welcome the minister’s statement the bill is not being watered down and the full powers of arrest and prosecution will remain as in the published version.
It is positive the government is listening to community concerns.
We now urge the government to go further and extend the same powers of arrest and prosecution to other anti-corruption institutions like the Auditor General, Ombudsman Commission and any future Commission of Inquiry so these bodies can enforce their own findings.
Act Now! is still concerned that, under the draft legislation, it is the prime minister who will head the appointments committee for commissioners.
An independent commission must be truly independent and there should be no role for the prime minister or any member of the government in appointing commissioners.
The government should remove the prime minister as head of the committee and replace him with the chairperson of Transparency International or a similar civil society figure.
This is necessary to remove any suggestion of bias or political control.