Pacific States commended for anti-corruption commitment


<p style="text-align: justify;">Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum urged member countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005. In the years since, five countries have signed on to the convention, with Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Marshall Islands joining Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Palau as States parties this year.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Earlier this year, the Solomon Islands also made known its intention to join the convention soon.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">UNCAC is the first comprehensive framework endorsed by the international community, and represents a landmark global consensus on the issue of corruption.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The convention binds State parties to cooperate with one another in the investigation and prosecution of offenders. Signatory countries are bound to cooperate with other state parties in tracing, freezing and confiscation the proceeds of corruption, as well as actually the returning those monies to the originating country.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In September this year, PNG endorsed a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy to guide its efforts to address this serious problem. The PNG Government has indicated its intention to enact legislation to protect public officials who make complaints about corruption and to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which would have powers to prevent, investigate and prosecute corruption (as reported in an earlier edition of <strong>Pacific Periscope</strong>).</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Vanuatu government is also reviewing their Leadership Code and Ombudsman Acts to strengthen the office of the Ombudsman to address issues around misconduct and corruption.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Marshall Islands, also in September, amended its Criminal Code to strengthen its provisions on bribery and other corruption offences. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is considering strengthening its laws on financial disclosure by leaders. Tonga and Vanuatu are in the process of drafting policies and laws that would entrench public right to access information.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">These initiatives have come in for praise from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is encouraging public awareness of anti-corruption measures and the recourse available to members of the public to deal with corruption in both the government and the private sector.</p>
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