THEY fought hard, they fought long and they fought without pay, but finally Investigation Task Force Sweep has had to throw in the towel.
Yesterday a three-man Supreme Court bench in Papua New Guinea allowed the team to withdraw its appeal against a Cabinet decision of 2014 to disband the successful corruption-busting unit.
A judicial review had upheld the Cabinet decision on the grounds that the establishment of the task force was a matter of administrative policy which the court has no jurisdiction to review.
Task Force Sweep had received no funding since it was abolished on 18 June 2014 and director Sam Koim said, although they maintained the office, it was impossible for them to sustain operations.
“I have given considerable thought on this step,” Mr Koim said, “and reluctantly made this decision due to circumstances beyond my control.
“We, as a team, have been surviving under the protection of the national and supreme court orders for almost three years now.
“Because of the court order effectively allowing us to operate in a public office, it was impossible for us to engage in other income earning jobs to sustain our survival. It is also not legally safe to accept suggestions for crowd funding due to the sensitive nature of this work.
“Despite the challenges, we’ve managed to keep our head above the water and maintained the office until today.” He said.
“We have incurred a lot of personal liabilities to maintain a government office. We have been tied to a dry office for the last three years, hence the decision.”
Mr Koim said the cases initiated by Task Force Sweep and currently in the courts will continue.
“Whether this work will continue or some of us will be recalled after the elections is the decision of the government that the people choose in this election,” he said.
“Personally, I am thankful for the opportunity to lead this team for the last five and half years. I have learnt a lot.”