The government's decision not to water down the powers of the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption has been welcomed by community advocacy group ACT NOW!
Two-weeks ago the Minister for Justice, Davis Steven, speaking at the Attorney Generals seminar at UPNG, said the government had amended the draft legislation creating the ICAC to remove its powers of arrest and prosecution.
However, following concerns raised by ACT NOW! and other civil society groups the government was creating a ‘toothless monster’, the Minister announced last Thursday the government would be sticking with the original 2015 ICAC Bill with no revisions.
“We welcome the Ministers’s statement the Bill is not being watered down and the full powers of arrest and prosecution will remain as in the published version”, says Campaign Coordinator Eddie Tanago. “It is positive the government is listening to community concerns”.
“We now urge the government to go further, and extend the same powers of arrest and prosecution to other anti-corruption institutions like the Auditor General, Ombudsman Commission and any future Commission of Inquiry so these bodies can enforce their own findings”
ACT NOW! still remains concerned though, that under the draft legislation for the ICAC, it is the Prime Minister that will head the appointments committee for the Commissioners.
“An independent commission must be truly independent and there should be no role for the Prime Minister or any member of the government in appointing the Commissioners” says Eddie Tango.
“The government should remove the PM as head of the Committee and replace him with the Chairperson of Transparency International or a similar civil society figure. This is necessary to remove any suggestion of bias or political control”.