| Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG)
Edited extracts from the Civil Society Report on the Implementation of Preventive Measures
of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Papua New Guinea
PORT MORESBY - The overall findings of the report indicate that Papua New Guinea is only partially compliant with its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Furthermore, although laws and relevant agencies have been established to carry out these obligations, improvement is needed in areas where laws are inadequate and where UNCAC provisions are not strictly enforced.
Corruption, and particularly systemic grand corruption, has worsened in PNG in the decades following its political independence from the Australian colonial administration in 1975.
In addressing this issue, past and present PNG governments have continued to look for avenues to address and minimise corruption.
The country has enacted laws, joined international initiatives, and adopted global principles and anti-corruption commitments.
The concern by local and international observers is that, whilst these policies, principles and laws exist, enforcement is lacking.
The report highlights significant deficiencies in the implementation of PNGs obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
It particularly notes gaps within existing laws that allow corruption to grow, the lack of harmony between key agencies such as police, courts and government departments, political interference in the functions of these agencies which affect their ability to perform their functions efficiently, and under-resourcing.
There have been a few notable achievements to systematically address corruption in Papua New Guinea since TIPNG’s last civil society report on the implementation of UNCAC in PNG in 2012.
In 2020, following decades of campaigning by civil organisations, ICAC and whistleblower laws were enacted.
Moreover, the 2019 Organic Law on the Independent Commission Against Corruption established an independent body responsible for investigating corruption complaints in relation to public officials or any other person or entity.
With the aim of strengthening governance in PNG, ICAC will also work in cooperation with other bodies to facilitate administrative arrangements for this cooperation as well as the exchange of information and the referral of matters.
Along with ICAC legislation, the PNG government also enacted whistleblower legislation for the purpose of safeguarding employees who make a protected disclosure.
The act however requires a tremendous amount of improvement to close gaps that, if left unaddressed, will allow for corruption to seep through.
Improvement is needed to the scope of whistleblower protection and to address the lack of an independent body to coordinate and implement whistleblower protection.
Apart from the establishment of these two landmark laws, there has also been significant reform made in relation to the management of public procurement.
In 2018, the government passed the National Procurement Act 2018, to establish provisions for the management of national procurement to provincial and local level governments
TIPNG has been invited to give feedback on proposed amendments, which aim to strengthen transparency and restore confidence in the procurement process.
There have also been government-led efforts to strengthen integrity through the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Country Risk Assessment, and the establishment of a National Coordinating Committee.
However, despite these developments, PNG still performs poorly on indicators such as the Corruption Perceptions Index, as these initiatives have yet to lead to tangible action to address impunity for grand corruption.
There is a multitude of deficiencies in mechanisms that hinder the successful implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption by PNG.