PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea government’s announcement of a so-called Interim Independent Commission Against Corruption is an insult to the nation and an abuse of the ICAC name.
An ICAC must be independent from government and free from any political interference, but what the prime minister has announced fundamentally fails both tests.
Peter O’Neill and his government have been pledging to establish an ICAC since 2012, yet all that has been announced is a politically-driven body set up to investigate political opponents.
The ‘interim ICAC’ is being directed on what it can investigate by the National Executive Council [Cabinet] and is housed in the Department of the prime minister.
It is not even clear whether there is any legal basis for an ‘interim ICAC’ or whether its investigations will have any legal validity.
What PNG urgently needs is a truly independent, full resourced and properly empowered ICAC not some half-baked interim committee.
Act Now! is urging the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to release its draft ICAC Bill for proper scrutiny and public consultation.
This is particularly urgent as it is rumoured that the government has been modifying the Bill to water down some of the powers of the proposed ICAC.
It is vital that ICAC is an independent constitutional body with powers to investigate complaints, arrest suspects and prosecute cases of corruption in both the public and private sector while working alongside existing law enforcement agencies.
It is over 10 years since PNG ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption yet we are still waiting for an ICAC just as we are still waiting for a Human Rights Commission and Freedom of Information Law.