PACIFIC AND ASIAN OMBUDSMEN MEET IN PNG

By Ian Boden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 1) - Ombudsmen from the Pacific and beyond will begin a two-day conference in Madang today morning.

Hosted by the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission at Madang, the 21st meeting of the Autralasia and Pacific ombudsmen will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

In what is predicted to be one of the most important gatherings of Pacific ombudsmen for many years, delegates and observers representing nations and territories as far apart as Western Samoa, New Caledonia, Fiji and the Cook Islands will meet their counterparts from Macao, Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia.

Australia and New Zealand will also be represented.

This meeting, only the second held by PNG since 1989, has a deliberate focus - the roles of ombudsmen in the development of democracy, with a particular emphasis on customs, conflict and compliance.

PNG's Chief Ombudsman Ila Geno is accompanied by Ombudsmen Hitolo and Masi, and other PNG speakers will include the Public Prosecutor Chronox Manek, law professor John Nonggor and a group of former ombudsmen, including Simon Pentanu and Sir Charles Maino.

At a press conference yesterday, ombudsmen from the PNG Commission said that this conference came at a crucial time in Pacific events, describing it as "an opportune time to examine the Pacific situation."

There will be an emphasis on the conflicts caused by clashes between customs and traditions and the legal frameworks of the various ombudsmen commissions.

It was important that the public and governments of the Pacific realised that the commissions wished to work with the various governments and not against them.

The Madang conference would seek to establish a more pro-active approach to assist PNG and the Pacific.

Ombudsmen Hitolo and Masi made reference to the institutional strengthening process the PNG Commission completed last July, and said that a recently received report from the post-institutional strengthening review team noted the Commission's "capacity to sustain reform."

The report expressed strong confidence in the PNG Ombudsman Commission and said there was scope for it to consider assisting PNG's Pacific neighbours, so that institutional strengthening programs could spread throughout the Pacific.

The institutional strengthening program was set-up and sponsored by AusAID.

It was expected that the Madang conference would also look at the role of leadership codes, and how codes could be adopted by other members.

At present, only Vanuatu shares a comparable leadership code with PNG.

The conference will end tomorrow evening with a dinner hosted by the Madang Provincial Government.

September 1, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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