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LEGAL INTERNS TO BE STRONG CATALYSTS IN TACKLING CORRUPTION

Port Moresby, February 1st, 2019 – Three law students from the University of Papua New Guinea have completed their internship program with Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) with a broader understanding of addressing corruption issues and ensuring good governance in public and private dealings.

Interns Hezron Wangi Jr, Salome Bamler and Eroni Lili began their practicum in November 2018 with TIPNG’s corruption complaints helpdesk the Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC). The ALAC is a community service offered by TIPNG that provides free legal assistance to citizens who want to report corruption issues.  The Legal Internship Program (LIP) gave the students a glimpse of real-life situations of ordinary citizens being victims of power play and dysfunctional systems in society.

“Through our Legal Internship Program, TIPNG wants to build a generation of legal professionals to become strong catalysts in tackling corruption and ensuring true justice,” said Executive Director, Ms Arianne Kassman.

During their work experience, the students reviewed TIPNG’s publication of 20 unresolved issues of national concern, participated at high level discussions of governance essential to Papua New Guinea, namely the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Two of the interns participated in a global online course on Corruption and the SDG’s facilitated by the Transparency International Secretariat.

“Working with the ALAC clients and the database was a good experience for me as I got to see the wide range of corruption related complaints that people report and try to assist them to the best of my abilities. I now aspire to work with the Department of Justice and Attorney General, being more than just a lawyer but an advocate for anti-corruption and change”, said Intern Miss Salome Bamler.

“It has been a great experience for me. Apart from working with ALAC clients and doing legal work I enjoyed working with the Policy and Advocacy team of TIPNG, learning about the OGP and the SDGs. When I applied for the internship, I thought we would just be doing legal work. I have also come to the realisation that corruption is so deeply rooted in our society. I have learned that in the future I must always have integrity and to always help people”, expressed Intern Mr Eroni Lili.

Mr Hezron Wangi Jnr, former president of the UPNG Law Students Society, said that the TIPNG Legal Internship experience was eye opener for him. “Before joining the LIP I always held onto the conventional idea that addressing the problem of corruption would be through prosecution and the legal system, but after going through the program and working with TIPNG, realise that by empowering citizens with the legal information they need gives them an advantage to address corruption when they meet it. That is why the work that TIPNG does is so important. “

This is the second batch of interns and TIPNG plans to expand the scope of the program into the 2019 – 2020 school break. The Legal Internship Program is supported by ExxonMobil PNG.

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PNG SCORES “HIGHLY CORRUPT” ON THE 2018 CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX

Port Moresby, January 29th, 2019 – Sincere, honest and real effort is needed by citizens, the public sector, businesses, and political leaders to protect the democracy of Papua New Guinea.  This is the message from Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) during the launch of the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

Papua New Guinea has again been classified as one of the most highly corrupt countries in the world according to the 2018 CPI, a worldwide examination of perceptions of levels of corruption suffered by individual nations. Our nation ranks 138 out of 180 countries with a score of 28 out of 100. The CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being perceived to be “very clean” and zero perceived to be “highly corrupt”.

The CPI shows a link between corruption and the health of democracies, where countries with higher rates of corruption, like Papua New Guinea, also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights. Under the theme “Corruption and the crisis of Democracy”, the 2018 CPI highlights crucial areas of public sector corruption that are contributing to the weakening of democratic institutions. Stagnation in their performance must be addressed by responsible agencies.

Over the years, Papua New Guinea has seen the deteriorating respect for democratic principles. Simply said: There is massive disrespect for rule of law in Papua New Guinea. Public servants and citizens alike lack the integrity to adhere to proper processes and respectful ways of conduct. This was evident in the 2017 National Elections with discrepancies and electoral roll inaccuracy, bribery and intimidation by voters and candidates, double voting and block voting. There was a lack of enforcement of laws, by official agencies, during the elections, providing an opening for citizens to disregard measures to ensure a free and fair election.

When corruption seeps into the democratic system, particularly at higher levels of power, democratic institutions that keep the government in check suffer. This is particularly so when corrupt leaders work actively to protect themselves from the law and use their power for private gain.

Protecting Papua New Guinea’s democracy also means protecting the people’s freedom of speech and the right to protest and ensuring the independence of the institutions and provide checks and balances such as the judiciary, the police and the media.

Although the CPI is a measure of the perceived level of corruption in the public sector, Papua New Guinea’s low score on the CPI should put greater attention on preventing corruption and promoting integrity in dealings from the business sector.  The business sector needs to be part of the efforts to put in place safeguards necessary to protect them from corruption.  Apart from the legal risks, companies implicated in corruption face severe reputational damage at home and abroad while others lose lucrative contracts.

For Papua New Guinea to make real progress in improving its CPI score and protecting its vibrant democracy, TIPNG calls on the Government of the day to:

  • Fully resource and strengthen institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power and ensure that these institutions operate without fear or favour;
  • Fully implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010 – 2030 and establish the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC);
  • Support the Open Government Partnership and create a legal framework for citizens to access information from the Government;
  • Ensure a free and independent media for Papua New Guinea journalists to work without intimidation or harassment from political powers.

TIPNG stands ready to work with the Government and other organizations to work on improving our democracy and our score on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

The CPI reflects the views of observers from around the world including experts living and working in the countries evaluated. It is based on a combination of data collected by 13 reputable organizations globally. Papua New Guinea was surveyed by six of the sources.  More information can be found on https://www.transparency.org/research/cpi .

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Better conditions and more integrity needed for Police officers

Port Moresby,08th January 2019 – TIPNG is of the strong view that the police hierarchy need to focus on the real issues affecting the force rather than paying incentives to police officers in NCD for something they swore an oath to and are already being paid to do. TIPNG is concerned that such a move would increase opportunities for corrupt actions by individual officers tempted towards corruption.

The proposed incentive is clearly a double-dipping exercise, at the expense of tax-payers. The reported incentive is an impractical short-term solution to a problem that would be prevented if all systems within the police force were diligently adhered to and enforced.

Police officers need to be respected, not offered cash inducements to do the work they are alleged to be failing to do. TIPNG calls on the leadership of the Royal PNG Constabulary (RPNGC) to seriously address improving the living conditions of police officers and their families, ensuring their salaries are appropriate to the roles we expect of them and ensuring the Police Code of Ethics, Police Act and laws in general are adhered to.

This is crucial in nurturing discipline, integrity and professional policing and will restore public trust and confidence in the police force.

TIPNG also urges citizens to be vigilant, to abide by the laws and comply with traffic rules. Efforts made by the RPNGC to ensure this happens are welcomed.

TIPNG also encourages citizens to report any police abuse to the RPNGC Internal Affairs Directorate located at Koki, Port Moresby. Citizens who have corruption complaints can call TIPNG’s corruption help desk on toll free phone number 1806000. The Police Act can be accessed at http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/pa199875.pdf .

TIPNG encourages citizens to stay informed and empowered.

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TIPNG Quarterly Newsletter October – December 2018

This quarter and has been a very busy one for us here at TIPNG.  It is also now the end of 2018, we thank you for your support towards our work this year. Please read our newsletter to find out what we have been up to this last quarter.

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State Agencies Must Empower Vulnerable Citizens through Anti-Corruption Policies

Each Government agency should have an anti-corruption policy, statistics from TIPNG’s 2016-2018 Corruption Complaints shows that women, youths, the illiterate and rural populations have not been able to report corruption.

Port Moresby, 7th December 2018 – Statistics from Transparency International Papua New Guinea’s (TIPNG) complaints desk the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) collected between 2018-2016 shows that vulnerable members of society must be empowered to report corruption. In making this known in a media briefing, TIPNG also called on public sector bodies to address this issue by developing anti-corruption policies in line with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010-2030.

“The ALAC is a public service offered by TIPNG for victims and witnesses of corruption to seek free and confidential legal advice, it is something we have been offering since 2010” said Chairman of TIPNG Lawrence Stephens at the media briefing, “The statistics we are presenting are over the last 2 years and show that more still needs to be done. Women, the youth and rural populations are underrepresented even though we know that they are more likely to be disadvantaged by corruption and its effects. TIPNG has sought to address a toll free hotline, 180 6000 that anyone from across the country can call to seek assistance on how to report corruption.”

“On the eve of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9th we are also reminded that public sector bodies must do their part by ensuring that they each have an internal anti-corruption policy in line with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy endorsed by the government ”, Mr. Stephens stated.

In the presentation by TIPNG, it was shown that ‘Lack of Transparency’ and ‘Conflicts of Interest’ were the two most common corrupt practices reported by clients to the ALAC. Additionally, the sectors that received the most complaints were ‘Public Administration’ and ‘Land and Property’. Over 80% of complainants were from men, with over 60% being aged between 40-54 years old. TIPNG has an office in Port Moresby but has attempted to reach rural communities by doing outreach activities and also promoting in 2018 its toll free hotline along the Highlands Highway on a billboard in Goroka.

TIPNG has also used the statistics collected from the the ALAC complaints to engage with state agencies. In 2014 TIPNG worked with the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, which has enabled to lodge complaints. TIPNG is currently working with the Department of Lands to develop a policy that will address complaints of corruption and which aligns with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Other solutions pursued by TIPNG include supporting the drafting of Right to Information Legislation and the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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TIPNG Internship for Law Students Resumes

Port Moresby, 10th November 2018 – Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) is giving three Law students from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) the opportunity to gain valuable work experience through its Legal Internship Programme (LIP).

Final year students Hezron Wangi Jr and Salome Bamler, and third year student Eroni Lili will be working in the areas of Policy Research and Legal Advocacy, through the Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC). They began their 13 week internship this week and will continue until February next year.

The LIP aims to give the students a broader understanding of issues of national concern through conducting interviews for witnesses and victims of corruption and giving them legal advice, doing media briefs and participating in TIPNG community outreach programs. The internship also equips the students with the knowledge and tools to fight corruption and contributes positively to their career development.

The three interns will be assisting citizens who report cases of corruption to TIPNG’s free legal service the (ALAC). The ALAC is confidential and accessible by calling the toll-free hotline 180 6000 or walking in to the TIPNG Office at Lokua Avenue, Boroko.

“This partnership between TIPNG and the UPNG School of Law is beneficial for both organisations and will broaden the understanding of students on issues of access to Justice encountered by ordinary Papua New Guineans taking the courageous decision to oppose corruption”, said Chairman of TIPNG Lawrence Stephens.

“The LIP has been a success with previous interns contributing to key advocacy decisions by TIPNG, and guiding corruption complainants on avenues to report corruption and stop impunity in our country” Mr. Stephens stated.

This the second batch of interns to go through the TIPNG LIP. The first internship lasted for eight weeks, and the success of the programme has led to it being increased to 13 weeks for the second intake. In addition to assisting victims and witnesses of corruption, the interns will also be providing research in key policy areas of governance.

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TIPNG Demands Transparency on APEC Vehicle Procurement

Port Moresby, 18th October 2018 – The only way to stop allegations of corruption is to be honest and transparent in procurement processes, says Transparency International PNG (TIPNG). In a media statement TIPNG is calling for the Government and APEC Authority to publicly disclose the total cost involved in the purchase of the Maserati and Bentley vehicles and to demonstrate their compliance with public procurement processes.

TIPNG said this in response to public condemnation of the purchase of 40 Maserati sports cars which were delivered last week and other luxury vehicles. Justin Tkatchenko MP, the Minister responsible for APEC, revealed that the government had procured the luxury cars on the expectation that they would be later sold to the private sector after the November APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby.

“We have heard only vehement denials of corruption by the Government and the APEC Authority, but they have not been forthcoming with procurement documents, such as an invitation for bids or receipts of purchase, let alone a list of private sector entities willing to purchase the vehicles. It is therefore not surprising that the public are suspicious of these purchases” said the Board of TIPNG.

“To assuage these legitimate concerns, the Government, particularly the APEC Ministry and the Department of Finance, must publicly release these procurement documents, otherwise it may be necessary for the relevant agencies such as the Police or Ombudsman Commission to compel them to do so by investigating the matter.”

The Government recently passed the National Procurement Act as part of its Alotau II Accord commitments along with a spate of recent Public Finance reform legislation, which was intended to strengthen public trust in Procurement.  However it is difficult to see how the general public can have confidence in a system which, in the absence of transparency, is so readily made to support what are seen to be impulsive and extravagant purchases by state entities in the face of declining service delivery, a depressed economy and severe hardships being faced by the ordinary Papua New Guinean.

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NID Investigation report must be published as a public document

Port Moresby, 18th October 2018 – TIPNG commends the Minister for National Planning, Hon Richard Maru, for taking steps to restore the integrity of the National Statistics Office (NSO) and the National Identity (NID) project.

This follows the suspension of former head of NSO, Mr Roko Koloma, and the establishment of an investigation team into the NID project.

In welcoming these positive steps taken by the Minister, TIPNG strongly feels that there is still much to be concerned about in terms of public interest and accountability of public funds apparently splurged on this project

The NID project was launched in November 2014 and was envisioned to become a universal ID card for all Papua New Guinean citizens. Over K200m was allocated for this NID project to be rolled out nationwide.

Instead, there have been allegations of mismanagement levelled against agencies responsible for NID, and numerous complaints by citizens throughout PNG on the inefficient and sloppy service by the Office of Civil Registry.

TIPNG calls on the appointed NID investigative team to carry out their duties thoroughly and with urgency and to furnish a full report to the public.

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TIPNG Newsletter July – September 2018

We have come to the end of the third quarter for this year, and it it has been very eventful.

TIPNG would like to thank all the participants of the various events that happened during this quarter, and look forward to working with you in the next quarter.

Thank you for your continuous support, please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further information on our projects.

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Civic Education – Teaching responsible citizenship in primary and secondary schools

Transparency International PNG, through its School Based Civic Education (SBCE) Project, recently ran a workshop with the teachers of Hagara Primary School in Port Moresby, using civic education curriculum materials developed under this project. During the 2-day workshop, teachers were encouraged to integrate the teacher resource materials with their social science and personal development curricula to develop lesson plans for classroom teaching.

‘Most of the teachers training expressed that TIPNG Civic education materials contained a lot of things that are missing from the personal development, social science and community living resources that they have in their schools’, said TIPNG Civic Education Manager, Mary Udu.

“This encouraging for us at TIPNG knowing that we have filled in a knowledge gap”, added Miss Udu.

She added that after the training, teachers go back to their schools and find that TIPNGs teacher resource materials are very important documents to have in their classrooms.

TIPNG produced materials to assist teachers and students:

  • identify the functions and processes of civil society and state institutions and the way they contribute to national integrity
  • apply skills of active citizenship which model and promote democratic governance in their own community
  • interact with state institutions and demand for better governance.

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