Whistleblowers protection bill passed

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By Gary Hatigeva

THE much anticipated Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2016 has been passed with so much anticipation for it to support in the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Act that was passed last week, and play a big part in the activities involved to help fight corruption in Solomon Islands.

Like the Anti-Corruption Act, the Whistleblowers Protection Act was thoroughly debated with a number of reservation in the contributions to various clauses, which some members fear have gaps to possibly return, somewhere down the line, to sting.

But the government through the guidance of the Prime Minister and his Deputy, including the Attorney General, have mostly assured both members and the people of this country that the new Act will play out fine, just the way it was designed to.

However, in its proceedings, the Committee of the Whole House received views and opinions that saw important amendments to two clauses of the Bill.

They include clause three and five, with the removal of sentences and words, and the inclusion of new lines, which according to the House, were for the sake of relevancy and suitable to a fast changing society especially, in the Solomon Islands context.

Following the thorough scrutiny, the bill, with only 10 clauses, made it through the committee stage and was later put to its third reading, which was then passed.

The Committee of the Whole House was later dissolved and parliament was resumed where matters of correction on what were regarded as, typo (typing errors), were formally approved for their addition at an appropriate time, but must be done before the Act is brought before the Governor General for his declaration.

Parliament was due to accept the second reading of the Strata Titles Bill 2017 afterwards, but following the thorough deliberations into the now Whistleblowers Act, the house was adjourned to this morning, where the proposed legislation will likely be put up for its second reading with debates to commence.

The Whistleblowers Protection Act is expected to accommodate and fulfil certain aspects of the Anti-Corruption Act, especially in the case of protecting whistleblowers and the process of reporting cases supposedly involve corruption.

It is understandably going to also involve other aspects of the integrity system, which includes the Office of the Ombudsman, the Leadership Code Commission and of course the Anti-Corruption Commission that is now a priority body for the government to establish.

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