Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) and members of the PNG Open Government Partnership (OGP) Freedom of Information (FOI) Technical Working Group attended an online presentation last Wednesday (July 22, 2020) as a further step towards drafting of the FOI enabling legislation and policy for PNG.
The presentation, which was facilitated by the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UNPRAC) Project, in an effort to take stock of FOI efforts in Papua New Guinea and discuss some key principles to consider when drafting RTI legislation, with a focus on lessons learned from other Pacific Island countries such as Vanuatu. Additionally, Members of the Technical Working Group were able to discuss the role of an independent body, such as an information commissioner or ombudsman, in oversight and facilitating external review.
The panel of experts included presentations by three regional experts from Vanuatu, New Zealand & Australia, to inform members of the Group on FOI Policy and Legislation in their respective jurisdictions. The online meeting gave the Group an opportunity to work with other each other and the presenters to discuss and ask specific questions on what an effective FOI framework might look like in Papua New Guinea.
Members of the Technical Working Group included representatives from the Department of Justice & Attorney General (DJAG), the National ICT Authority (NICTA), TIPNG and the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) and is chaired by the Department of Communication & Information Technology (DCIT).
While Papua New Guinea has the Right to Information guaranteed under Section 51 of the National Constitution, guiding policy and enabling legislation is yet to be drafted.
The possibility of a PNG FOI law has been heralded as a game-changer for PNG, especially through its potential to redefine the relationship between PNG citizens and the National Government by ensuring citizens better access to public information, and allowing for greater public scrutiny and accountability of government operations.
In exploring a new partnership with the National Youth Development Authority (NYDA), Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) co-facilitated a five-day workshop with the Esa’ala District Youth Development Council, in Milne Bay Province from July 6th-10th, 2020. The workshop was aimed at building the leadership capacity of the District Youth Council.
TIPNG sessions during the workshop adapted a practical approach to teaching members of the Esa’ala Youth Council how to identify issues in their communities and to build realistic and intuitive solutions through consultation and the development and implementation of structured robust action plans.
Twelve young people representing Dobu LLG, Duau LLG and West Fergurson LLG in the Esa’ala District participated in the training, which also supplemented practical approaches to tackling youth issues within Esa’ala, with insights on how to facilitate efficient consultation and dissemination of information through the use of digital media platforms.
While most of the sessions facilitated by TIPNG focused on building and implementing effective solutions for issues affecting Esa’ala youth, one session also included a crash course on ethical leadership. Through which, TIPNG presented the participants with three ethical dilemmas, which were targeted at reinforcing integrity in leadership.
“The young leaders were open to learn and it was encouraging to see them grasping the concepts introduced to them. At TIPNG, we have a focus on young people and our goal is to empower a new generation of informed and active citizens,” said TIPNG Youth Integrity Program Coordinator Dagia Aka.
Following its inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) last Tuesday 21st July 2020, the PNG Resource Governance Coalition (PNGRGC) has now elected Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) as the coalition’s new secretary.
In addition to TIPNG as the Secretary, the following positions on the PNGRGC Council were voted in the 2019 AGM; Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights (President), Suau Development Foundation (Vice-President), and the PNG Institute of National Affairs (Treasurer).
Following their collective election to the PNGRGC executive during the AGM, all officer bearer agencies will serve in these roles for the next 12 months.
TIPNG Chief Executive Officer Arianne Kassman, who was present at the AGM highlighted the unique opportunity that the PNGRGC presented for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to work together in improving the accountability and good governance of PNG Extractive Industries.
“Ensuring the transparent and accountable management of revenue collected from the Extractives Sector in Papua New Guinea has been a consistent priority for TIPNG. While our focus towards ensuring this integrity continues, we are privileged to now have the opportunity to combine our efforts with those of other like-minded CSOs in PNG as we push for good governance from both Industry and Government agencies within the Sector,” said Ms Kassman.
Founded in 2015 and incorporated in 2018, the PNGRGC is an organization that is broadly responsible for coordinating the efforts of CSOs in promoting and advocating the principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in PNG.
The coalition now aims to achieve this through raising public awareness on resource governance and sustainability issues, and specifically advocate for accountability and good governance in the planning & management of the extractive sector.