NGO wants PNG anti-corruption body to be strong

8:04 pm on 18 April 2019

Transparency International says it's waiting to see how strong the Papua New Guinea government's planned Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will be.

TI PNG's Lawrence Stephens, (middle).

TI PNG's Lawrence Stephens, (middle). Photo: twitter

PNG's Justice Minister Davis Steven has announced he plans to table a bill to establish an ICAC in next month's parliament sitting.

After losing its way within the bureaucracy in recent years, the bill is now being prepared by officials, he said.

Transparency International PNG's Lawrence Stephens said his NGO had been pushing for an ICAC for decades and had been involved in consultations about the bill.

"We'd be really happy to see legislation come forward, and we would also be watching carefully to see that the legislation was the legislation that we were pushing for, with all the strengths that an ICAC requires," Mr Stephens said.

For an ICAC to work, it had to be backed up by support for existing institutions whose work related to the commission, he added.

"And it's always been our position that we need to be sure that introducing ICAC goes hand in hand with support for the existing institutions, the police, courts, ombudsman and so on.

"We're watching for that. We're insisting that that be part of this process."

Previously, PNG civil society groups criticised an earlier draft of the bill which they warned would create a toothless commission open to political interference.

The earlier ICAC bill removed powers of arrest and prosecution proposed in earlier versions, and put the prime minister in charge of appointing the commissioners.

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