More concerted plan to root out Pacific corruption
Anti corruption campaigners believe, that through their efforts, more and more people are becoming convinced that corruption is a major problem that must be rooted out.
Transparency International is planning a new Pacific regional body to help fight corruption in the region.
It will work with agencies in each country and assist them with education tools and funding.
The interim head of Transparency International Vanuatu, Dr Willie Tokon, says it will be a great help for work they are already doing in civics education.
DR WILLIE TOKON: People who don't know the meaning of corruption, in the communities, we engaging other people to help us do this education. And what is the regional body will do is help us seek funding and help us, like I said, learn from each other and to deal with other issues. We, in our national chapters we, like in Vanuatu we doing a DVD on education. On educating, education on corruption. One month ago we launched a national integrity survey report and I am very pleased that, in the last six, eight weeks or so in Vanuatu, this survey even though it is very direct and very pointed sometimes to some positions. In the community, in the government. People they accept it and the head of the government is actually very supportive and he is getting the government to take lead in sorting out a lot of this corruption. So the, I have received an invitation to go and take part in a workshop. We are trying to set up an anti-corruption commission in Vanuatu. Something that Vanuatu ratified in the United Nations about three or fours years ago, has not been done. So we regard this new Prime Minister in Vanuatu as a very strong ally, in our fight against corruption.
DON WISEMAN: In terms of corruption in Vanuatu, where do you see the biggest problems?
WT: I think it is because it has been there for so long, people they talk about it and then nobody does anything about it. Not only that, Ombudsman's office has never had the power to prosecute people. So they have investigated the corruption, put out report but nothing done. I understand that now there is an Ombudsman, he is going to change some legislation so that the Ombudsman can prosecute.
DW: His rulings will lead to charges, or potentially will lead to charges?
WT: That is what the, it is being worked on and we hope that his findings, his investigations will lead to charges and prosecution. So far in the last 30 years of Independence in Vanuatu, that has never been done and maybe that is why it is becoming endemic, like you said. But the other thing is, people do not seem to report corruption, because it goes up and then nothing gets done. So, you know we hear rumours about the corruption in the ministry's of Government, in recuritments, in the police force, in the whole community and nothing seems to be done about it. But TIV (Transparency International Vanuatu) is doing education and we have a legal branch of TIV that engages lawyers to take cases to court. So if we become more effective and the funding gets better and we have more human resource,TIV should be able to do more than just one case every six months or one case every year. I was listening to the last, former chair of the TIV, she was very frustrated because she was very vocal against corruption but she never had any, anybody, you know prosecuted. So when we did the launching of the national integrity survey report, her words were, "It only takes one person, one prominent person to be prosecuted and everybody will wake up". But that is yet to be done.
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