OFFICIAL INQUIRIES IN PNG HAVE LITTLE IMPACT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 7) - The success rate of commissions of inquiry in Papua New Guinea have been very low, according to a former Ombudsman, Peter Masi.

Masi said the first Commission of Inquiry took place before independence in 1966 and since then there have been about 30 commissions of inquiry. He said the success rate of all the commissions of inquiry required an extensive analysis to be able to draw a logical conclusion.

"To try to judge the situation and speak off the top of the head by any of us concerned about good governance and fighting corruption in PNG, we would conclude that as a country we deserved better outcome than what had been so far."

[PIR editor’s note: Notable among official inquiries in Papua New Guinea last year was the Papua Defense Force Board of Inquiry into the escape of fugitive Julian Moti from Australian authorities with the help of a PNG military aircraft. The report, released in March of 2007, implicated Prime Minister Michael Somare in Moti’s escape to sanctuary in the Solomon Islands but has had no ramifications. ]

He said it would seem that so far PNG had gained and learnt nothing about good governance. Calling off commissions of Inquiry by the Prime Minister, he said, was like removing a safety valve for crisis control and undermining confidence building between policy makers and others.

"Commissions of Inquiry is a temporary government investigation which must be allocated the resources to start and finish its business [on] time. What many people do not know in PNG was that while periodical government scandals were investigated by commissions of inquiry we also had fulltime commission of inquiry.

"From the legal perspective I have come to believe that the Ombudsman Commission is a permanent Commission of Inquiry or a rolling Commission of Inquiry which makes inquiry on wrong conduct and misconduct of leaders and government agents 365 days a year.

"The conduct investigated by the Ombudsman Commission are also scandalous and corruptive in nature," he said.

Masi said political manipulation, bare resource support and some very peculiar pulls and pushes were now affecting some of the recent commission of inquiry as well as the Ombudsman Commission.

"If PNG through its executive government and the National Parliament controlled and removed the independence and the effectiveness of the temporary commission of inquiries as well as the permanent Commission of Inquiries, you could be meddling with the safety valve of peoples’ lawful expression as required by the Constitution," he said.

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