26 Apr 2010

PNG MPs urged not to support bill watering down Ombudsman's powers

3:12 pm on 26 April 2010

Papua New Guinea's former Chief Ombudsman, Ila Geno, has urged MPs not to support a bill which would reduce the Ombudsman Commission's powers.

Parliament is considering legislation to amend the constitution so that the Commission is unable to refer politicians to the Leadership Tribunal.

The Commission would also no longer be able to stop MPs from using Electoral Development Funds, which are earmarked for projects in their electorates, but which can and have been used to buy votes around election time.

Mr Geno, who was the Chief Ombudsman from 1999 until 2008, says misuse of funds by the country's leaders is still a big problem.

"It's getting worse and worse and if this amendment is through, it will open the floodgates for any level of leadership to abuse people's authority, people's funds, people's goods, people's law."

Ila Geno says if the amendments go through, it opens the way for PNG to be run by autocrats and dictators.