Author: Yuambari Haihuie

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TIPNG Bougainville Referendum Observation Report

TIPNG was accredited by the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) as a domestic PNG observer group. The TIPNG observation team was comprised of volunteers from: academia, independent constitutional bodies, TIPNG Staff and TIPNG Directors, who possessed relevant knowledge of electoral processes.

The purpose of the observation was to report whether: Bougainvilleans were free to exercise their right to vote, if the Referendum process was fair to all voters; and to see if polling was safe from violence. These observation results fed into an overall assessment as to whether the Referendum outcome credibly reflects the will of Bougainvillean voters.

There were two survey forms that TIPNG observers used in the field: the first survey form, systematically evaluated polling stations and officials; and the second form that collected the views of voters. In total, nine TIPNG observers participated in the field work during the week of polling from 23 to 28 November 2019 in North and Central Bougainville. There were 28 polling places observed and 163 voters interviewed by TIPNG observers.

Quantitative results from both observers and voters demonstrated a high degree of freedom of expression and the exercising of voters’ rights. Additionally, a substantial majority of observers deemed the referendum process was very fair. A sole incident in Central Bougainville and bias of a polling official at one polling place in North Bougainville are not considered to be reflective of the overall high degree of fairness observed.

There were significantly high percentages of reports by TIPNG observers that voters and polling officials were not subject to intimidation or bribery, as recorded by 93% and 71% respectively. These findings were also supported by the voter surveys where 99% of respondents never felt threatened to select a particular option.

TIPNG’s overall evaluation based on observation data both quantitatively and qualitatively reflected that the Bougainville Referendum was free, fair & safe and credibly reflected the will of voters.

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Law Students Successfully Complete TIPNG Internship

Three students from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) School of Law have completed their eight-week internship with local anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG), on Monday 10th February, 2020.

The interns; Alois Sinen, Rhonda Tevlone and Melvia Lyandenge, began their internship on 2nd December, 2019 within TIPNG’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), which provides information to assist witnesses & victims of corruption in PNG.

“Since 2017, there have been 2 cohorts of interns. The 2019-2020 TIPNG Interns are the third cohort to have completed the program.  We are proud to have these budding legal professionals gain experience of TIPNG’s activities and programs which empower citizens to address corruption,” said Mr Samson Kandata, coordinator of the TIPNG Legal Internship Program (LIP).

“The 2-month internship involved attending to complainants through phone calls and face-to-face meetings with clients. TIPNG is a non-government organisation so does not investigate, arrest or prosecute perpetrators of corruption. The LIP Interns while with TIPNG compiled case briefs and followed up referral of cases with responsible agencies on behalf of complainants.”

In addition to their duties under ALAC, the Interns also contributed to research & policy work on outstanding national cases of corruption and assisted with advocacy & outreach events by TIPNG. Meeting with TIPNG stakeholders and partners in the Public & Private Sectors was also a part of the LIP. The Legal Internship, now in its 3rd year, is an arrangement between the UPNG Law School and TIPNG, with funding support from ExxonMobilPNG (EMPNG).

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TIPNG Bougainville Referendum Observation Preliminary Statement

Introduction

Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is the local chapter of the global Transparency Movement and has been operating in Papua New Guinea since 1997. TIPNG’s mission is to empower Papua New Guineans to act against corruption.

This statement is a preliminary assessment of the TIPNG Observation of the Bougainville Referendum Polling which was an activity entirely funded by the European Union. The statement will also provide an overview of TIPNG’s Observations and highlight key areas which will be covered in depth in a full report that is to be launched before Parliament resumes at the beginning next year

Background on Domestic Election Observation

TIPNG has had significant engagement in the past with both electoral observation and the electoral reform process in Papua New Guinea as part of its vision to see our country strengthen good governance and ensure the rule of law is upheld.

TIPNG Observed the National Elections in 2007, 2012 & 2017 as well the 2013 Local Level Government Election. Electoral Observation has been part of TIPNG’s broader engagement with citizens, with over 400 individual volunteers participating to observe the 2017 National Elections across the country.

The TIPNG Electoral Observation reports have been the basis for legislative changes such as the introduction of the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) and also highlighting weakness in the system which has led to a call to improve on issues such as Voter Identification. Additionally, under the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections TIPNG has had a nominee serving on the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC), a body which advises the Electoral Commissioner on whether an election should be classified as ‘failed’.

TIPNG Bougainville Referendum Observers

TIPNG received accreditation from the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) to field Observers during the week of polling from 25th-29th November 2019 in North and Central Bougainville. Four (4) Observers were fielded in North Bougainville and five (5) observers in Central Bougainville.  Our observer teams were comprised of TIPNG Board & Staff and volunteers from the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC), the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), the National Research Institute (NRI) and the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The TIPNG Observers played a critical role in the Referendum by observing the conduct of polling and counting, to ascertain if the process was free, open, transparent, democratic and fair – based on national legislation and according to national and international standards. Observers were tasked to maintain a high level of neutrality and professionalism to meet international standards. They were not to interfere in the polling and counting process, but to act as independent observers of the process – not to control or interfere in the conduct of the referendum.

Methodology of Observation

TIPNG’s Observation of the Bougainville Referendum was across 28 polling sites in North and Central Bougainville with well over a 100 voters interviewed. TIPNG only observed the Polling Process and not the Counting.

There were two (2) survey tools used, the first to systematically evaluate polling stations & officials and the second tool to collect the views of voters on whether the referendum was free, fair & safe. The surveys were modified from the surveys used in the 2007, 2012 & 2017 National Elections Observation, and to an extent are comparable.

Preliminary Findings

TIPNG thanks the People of Bougainville and the BRC Polling Officials for their unanimous support in answering our survey questions over the week of polling. TIPNG Observers were all welcomed and did not encounter any hostility or violence; in fact most polling stations had a sense of celebration by communities as polling commenced. Furthermore, all voters that were interviewed by TIPNG Observers were forthcoming in their answers and gave answers freely.

The voter surveys were almost all entirely unanimous in their assessment that there were no undue or coercive behaviours, e.g. Bribery, Threats of Violence, Block Voting, etc. Almost all respondents responded that they had not experienced or witnessed issues that have plagued elections in Papua New Guinea in the past, and this was corroborated by the TIPNG Observer teams.

It should be noted that amongst the twenty-eight (28) polling places observed, only one (1) in Central Bougainville, had a serious deficiency as the Secrecy of the Vote was violated by a man from the community seeing how each vote was cast at the ballot booth and in some instances filling in the ballot for electors. It would appear that this was an anomalous incident, however in the absence of other observer reports it is unclear how reflective this incident was of other electoral violations.

While there were other procedural issues by BRC officials, e.g. inadequate provision of provisional votes, limited polling booths, and early close of polling stations before 6pm, etc., these were minor instances and could be easily ascribed to under-resourcing or insufficient training of BRC polling officials.

On the whole the TIPNG Bougainville Referendum Observation preliminary finding is that while there were minor procedural issues, if measured against the standard of previous elections in PNG, the Bougainville Referendum was free, fair & safe and credibly reflects the will of the people of Bougainville.

Due to the instance of an observed electoral violation and of other minor procedural issues, it cannot be said that the Bougainville Referendum was entirely without incident.

Full Report & Interim Recommendation

TIPNG will release a Full Report later in 2020 with the financial support of the European Union. The report will be released before the first seating of the National Parliament in February 2020. The full report will present the data collected by TIPNG Observers during the Bougainville Referendum.

TIPNG welcomes the official conclusion of the Bougainville Referendum with the return of the writs by the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) to the Governor General of Papua New Guinea on Friday 13th December 2019.

As the governments of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville begin deliberation on the Referendum results, TIPNG strongly recommends that leaders maintain the democratic values captured by the Referendum process.

In the interest of preserving Democracy, leaders in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, have a duty to be open to citizens as they deliberate on our behalf for an outcome to be ratified by the Government of Papua New Guinea in line with the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

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TIPNG Observers Ready for Bougainville Referendum

Tuesday 19th November 2019, Port Moresby – Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) with funding support from the European Union, will be observing polling stations during the Bougainville Referendum. TIPNG has received accreditation from the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) to field their Observers during the week of polling from 25th-29th November 2019 in North and Central Bougainville.

“The observers have been briefed by TIPNG and will be fielded next week, with 6 observers in Buka and 5 observers in Arawa. Our observer teams are comprised of TIPNG Board & Staff and volunteers from the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC), the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), the National Research Institute (NRI) and the Public Service Commission (PSC),” said TIPNG Deputy Director, Policy & Advocacy, Mr Yuambari Haihuie.

“This observation is similar to the National Election observations by TIPNG as we will monitor the conduct of the Referendum Polling by officials, as well as the freedom of voters to cast their votes without fear or intimidation. TIPNG has a free and confidential hotline number 180 6000 for voters in the referendum to call if they see any cases of corruption. We request the support of Bougainvilleans at polling stations if interviewed by our observers,” added Mr. Haihuie, who is coordinating the TIPNG Observation team.

The role of Observers in the Referendum is to provide a critical role in the democratic process by observing whether the conduct of polling and counting is free, open, transparent, democratic and fair – based on national legislation and according to national & international standards. Observers must maintain a high level of neutrality and professionalism to meet international standards. They cannot interfere in the polling and counting process. Their role is to observe only. They do not control or interfere in the conduct of the referendum.

Following the Observation, TIPNG will issue an independent public report on its findings early next year.

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European Union Supports TIPNG for Bougainville Referendum Observation

Monday 21st October 2019, Port Moresby – The European Union has made funding available to Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) to conduct domestic observation of the Bougainville Referendum process.

“TIPNG thanks His Excellency Ambassador Jernej Videtič and the European Union Delegation to Papua New Guinea for their continuous support of good governance and democracy in our country. Through their financial support, TIPNG will be able to monitor the conduct of the Referendum polling by officials as well as the freedom of voters to cast their votes without fear or intimidation,” said Ms. Arianne Kassman, Executive Director of TIPNG at the occasion of the signing of the grant agreement.

TIPNG has previously conducted observation of National and Local Level Government elections in Papua New Guinea and will field teams of volunteers to observe polling from 23rd November – 7th December 2019 which are the gazetted dates of the Bougainville Referendum.

TIPNG has sought and obtained accreditation status as an Observer Group with the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC). Following the conduct of the Observation, TIPNG will issue an independent public report on its findings.

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Our Right To Know, Their Duty To Tell

Papua New Guineans must be empowered to obtain public information from the State. Once informed, a citizen will be able to more effectively demand accountability, oppose corruption and monitor public service delivery.

Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has surveyed 24 Government Agencies, to assess their current ability to provide public information both online and over the counter, the findings are contained in this report.

KEY FINDING

Over 90% of State agencies surveyed were unable to give public documents when requested over the counter, yet these same documents were already available online for 54% of the agencies.

This disconnect between officers and agencies demonstrates the culture of secrecy that has formed in the bureaucracy and the urgent need for structural changes within organisations. Public servants should have a clear process and adequate infrastructure to keep the public informed.

KEY RECOMMENDATION

TIPNG calls for the immediate creation of a Right to Information Policy outlining the process by which a citizen can expect to obtain information and for a Right to Information Law to establish a public-interest body to assist citizens’ requests for information from government agencies.

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Proposal to Improve Online School-Leaver Selection Winner of Open Government Contest for Youth

Monday 25th March 2019, Port Moresby – A proposal to improve the design of the online school-leaver selections to tertiary institutions has taken out the top prize in a public contest for youth to submit ideas on how a more open government can improve the lives of young people in Papua New Guinea.

To mark global Open Government Week which ran from 11-17th March 2019, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) launched the ‘Design a Youth Commitment’, contest to inspire young citizens to actively engaging in transforming the Government with the aim of better serving the needs of the people.

“When the Government of Papua New Guinea first signed up to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2014, and subsequently submitted a 2-year National Action Plan (NAP) in 2018, we in civil society knew this would give us more of an even footing in co-creating what an Open Government in our country could look like – the ideas submitted in our contest to see how young people envisioned that future are testament to that,” said TIPNG Executive Director Arianne Kassman at an event on Friday 22nd March 2019 to present the 3 winners in the contest with their prizes and certificates of recognition.

“The OGP gives citizens a unique framework to co-create an agenda, captured in the NAP 2018-2020, for openness to improve service delivery through 7 specific commitments. Throughout Open Government Week, TIPNG as the lead Civil Society body in the OGP has led discussions on OGP on radio, online, in a seminar and through this contest where young people between the ages of 12-25 submitted innovative ways in which an Open Government could transform society. The winning entry from Mr. Arvin Kopi calls for more consultation to be done with manual selectors to ensure that digital selection captures all the nuance required for a more holistic school-leaver selection process,” said Ms. Kassman.

The OGP NAP 2018-2020 contains 7 commitments to be achieved by 2020 in 4 key areas, and was drafted by both Government Agencies, with the Department of National Planning taking the lead, and over 20 Civil Society Organisations. The NAP has been endorsed by the National Executive Council in Decision No. 323/2018 and is currently the overarching mechanism for coordinating Open Government initiatives in Papua New Guinea.

 

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Informed Local Communities Ensure LLG Accountability

Monday 18th March 2019, Port Moresby – A vital way to address corruption and ensure accountability within Local Level Governments (LLG),  is to inform citizens on how to monitor and report on  governance issues within their communities says Transparency International PNG (TIPNG). The local anti-corruption NGO visited Kimbe to conduct a 2nd LLG Accountability Workshop with participants from Hoskins and Talasea LLGs in West New Britain.

 

TIPNG was assisted by the Ombudsman Commission Islands Regional Office to facilitate the workshop the 29 participants from Hoskins and Talasea. The workshop topics included; how councilors can identify cases of corruption and report it to TIPNG’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre, the role of the Ombudsman Commission and how they can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman Commission. Other topics included the Leadership Code and how to create a Social Accountability Plan.

 

“The aim of the LLG Accountability Workshops was twofold, firstly to strengthen the accountability mechanisms within the three Districts where they were conducted and secondly to identify weaknesses to be addressed by appropriate entities such as the Department of Provincial & Local Government Affairs (DPLGA), Department of Finance and the Department of National Planning & Monitoring” said TIPNG workshop facilitator Mr. Yuambari Haihuie.

 

“While we would have ideally wanted to conduct the workshop with newly elected LLG officials, the deferral of the LLG Elections has necessitated holding the 2nd Workshop before communities had voted in new officials for their respective LLG’s. Nevertheless, it is TIPNG’s hope that the communities within Goroka, Kimbe & Madang will use the information provided and be more resilient in the face of corruption by actively pursuing accountability.”

 

Recently the PNG Ombudsman Commission has also sought a Supreme Court reference on the LLG Elections which have been deferred from 2017 to 2019. TIPNG raised similar concerns in 2018, as Section 34 of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local-Level Government (OLPLLG) states that wherever practicable, the term of a Local-Level Government shall be the same as and run concurrently with the term of the Parliament, and can be deferred no more than three months after the National Elections which occurred in 2017.

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TIPNG Warns that Koloma sets back Government NID Response

Port Moresby, 14 February 2018 – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG)says that positive steps by the Government to audit the National Identity (NID) Project in response to their campaign is marred by the efforts of National Statistician Roy Koloma which appear intended to evade a police investigation into alleged fraud.

TIPNG, a chapter of the global Transparency International movement, marked its 21st Anniversary in January by identifying 3 key national issues that they would be campaigning for in 2018; these were the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), enabling legislation for citizens’ constitutional right for free access to public information, and lastly resolution for the scandals involving the NID Project.

“In January, TIPNG called for the Government to halt payments to the NID Project until an independent audit was done on the K230m spent by the Department of National Planning, we also called for the head of the National Statistical Office (NSO) Mr. Roy Koloma to step aside whilst investigations of alleged fraud were conducted,” said Mr. Lawrence Stephens, Chairman of TIPNG.

“Subsequently the Deputy Prime Minister and the National Planning Minister responded with promises that an independent committee would be established in February. We are keen to hear the findings of the committee.”

“However, it is now reported that Mr. Koloma has taken what appears to be a deplorable step of attempting to evade the police and apparently demanding that he be given special consideration. TIPNG reminds Mr. Koloma and all citizens that they must comply with the efforts of legal authorities, exercising constitutional powers on behalf of us all, to cooperate when requested to provide information”.  Mr. Stephens emphasised. “There is only one law, and it should be applied to all citizens equally, moreover leaders like Mr. Koloma must preserve the integrity of the office they occupy and, if being investigated for serious criminal offences relating to their office, step aside until being cleared. The people of Papua New Guinea demand and deserve accountability.”

Mr Stephens added that the Transparency International Secretariat, in Germany, will be releasing its global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) on February 22nd, an index in which countries are ranked and scored by levels of perceived corruption. “Sadly Papua New Guinea has consistently ranked poorly. However, if the Government and police continue to respond as quickly as seen with the NID saga, then it is inevitable that one day the perception of corruption will decrease and our CPI score will improve. This would be something the Government can rightly tout when hosting events such as the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting on Prevention of Corruption happening later this month.”

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Position Vacancy: Office Manager

TIPNG is inviting applications to fill in the position vacancy of OFFICE MANAGER.
The role is responsible for a diverse set of administrative tasks including maintaining office operations, human resources , finance and executive secretarial duties.

Send your application to:

The Executive Director
Transparency International PNG Inc.
P. O. Box 591, Port Moresby, NCD
Email: exectipng@gmail.com
Applications close on Monday 15 January 2018 at 4:00pm.

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