PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Aug. 30) – The Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission’s call at the Port Moresby Chambers of Commerce and Industry breakfast on Friday should be given some serious hearing by those in power.

Chief Ombudsman Ila Geno wants his organization, responsible for policing the Leadership Code, to be given the powers to be able to charge those that come under that Act if they breach the Act. That’s of course if investigations show up that the accused has a case to answer.

Mr Geno’s call is sure to hit a chord with many in the community that feel the same way as he does. For those that the Act covers — leaders; that is politicians — they will not be in too much of a hurry to do anything. They do not want to give more powers to an institution they often attack as being out to get them.

The Ombudsman Commission has done a credible job in the past 20 years. It has been and remains one of the fiercest independent watchdogs against corruption in public office.

Through its efforts, wayward politicians have been dethroned from their perches of power, as well as other public office holders.

Mr Geno is right, his office should be given the power to prosecute people it finds have breached the Leadership Code. At present, it merely investigates and then refers leaders for prosecution to relevant authorities to lay charges against. But those authorities have to conduct their own investigations from which they may or may not file charges. The process is prolonged and often stressful for the accused.

If the commission was to be given the powers to prosecute, all that would be avoided and of course the whole process would be cheaper for all and justice served more speedily than at present. Its got to be the natural progression of things for the commission. With time, it has obviously matured. It has high trained investigators and will save the already overstretched police, Public Prosecutor and Solicitor-General’s offices valuable times and resources.

Our politician have to support amendments to make this happen if they are serious about weeding out corruption and bringing transparency and accountability to the high offices of the State. They have nothing to be scared of, unless of course they have something to hide.

August 30, 2004

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