Pacific youth encouraged to fight corruption
Pacific youth learn about corruption and advocating for change in their own countries.
40 Pacific youth representatives from 15 countries are in Fiji for the inaugural Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption.
The Forum, which finishes today, is supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in collaboration with the Pacific Youth Council.
Koroi Hawkins has more.
Youth activists, young journalists, students, community workers and heads of national youth programs are but a few descriptions for the 40 young men and women gathered in Nadi to talk about corruption a topic which some are not well versed in and others are all too aware of. UNDPs anti-corruption specialist, Mihaela Stojkoska, says the forum aims to raise the profile and voices of these often marginalised youth groups in the region.
MIHAELA STOJKOSKA: Our objective is to get young people to discuss corruption, their perception of corruption, how youth can be taking leadership in the fight against corruption. Speaking out, raising their voice. Finding innovative ways to tackle corruption and stuff like that.
Jimmy Gaunavou represents the Banaban Students Association in Fiji, he says for his generation the coups of Fiji have been the biggest manifestations of corruption and he says the lack of free media during the last coup has directly affected his life as a young Fijian.
JIMMY GAUNAVOU: Because that was an issue that we had and the media was restricted to do other things because of this corruption. And if this opportunity can be given to the media, realising that we have a very concrete framework it will be really effective and more information can be disseminated to everyone and you know the governments can be accountable for that.
Lanuola Tusani is a journalist with the Samoa Observer. For her, the overwhelming three quarter majority held by the ruling party in Samoa seems unfair because no opposing views are taken into consideration and the majority of government bills are passed regardless of the public view on the issue.
LANUOLA TUSANI: There are bills that get debated in the house and even with so much objections it goes pass. I think it affects me in other ways too because I want to see more views, I want to see more of tomorrows issues that concerns the youth being voiced in parliament. And also in gender for women.
Stephanie Edwards, from the Federated States of Micronesia is representing the Pohnpei Youth Council and she says she was shocked to learn recently of her leaders misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds in a report published several years after the actual offences occurred. She feels like youth in FSM are being kept in the dark about governance issues.
STEPHANIE EDWARDS: I know I was talking to some other micronesians and they have the same feeling of being misinformed that I have so it is good to have forums like these and just have platforms where youth can come together to inform each other, educate each other, learn from each other and come up with resolutions and ways to combat corruption.
The youths are looking at different types of corruption and methods used to combat corruption, take part in role plays and listen to the experiences of regional leaders like Vanuatu's Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu who talks about the efforts in his country in taking a collaborative approach in the fight against corruption, involving church groups, youth groups and women's groups in the effort to keep their government transparent and accountable.
RALPH REGENVANU: It's essential that they are involved and understand the issues of corruption and also can be utilised to reduce corruption as much as possible. It's very important to have the champions within the youth, people who are fully aware within the youth circles. Who can educate their peers and also can mobilise youth and you know the passion that youth have, to utilise that passion to continue to push the society towards demanding better leadership less corruption and better service delivery.
As well as educating the youth and helping them advocate for positive change in their respective countries organisers are hoping the forum will see the birth of a pacific youth network against corruption that they intend to nurture and grow into the future.
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