Can those who go to the media be protected?

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BY CAROL-ANNE SULEGA

THE Bills and Legislations Committee (BLC) expressed concern over the Whistle-blowers legislation that it does not apply to a person who goes to the media for whatsoever reason.

The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2016 is one of the anticorruption legislations.

The object of the Whistle-blowers Protection Bill 2016 is to protect persons making disclosures about conduct that may constitute corruption, maladministration or misconduct in public office from liability and victimisation.

In 2014, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime conducted a review of Solomon Islands’ compliance with the United Nations Convention against corruption.

It showed deficiencies in several areas of law and administration, in particular the scope of the existing laws and their ineffectiveness in preventing corruption.

The Solomon Islands Government accepted most of the recommendations in the UN review and the Anticorruption Unite of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) developed a policy on Anti-corruption.

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One component of this policy is this Bill.

In a report by the BLC on the legislation, the Committee says that if a person who goes to the media in the case that it has exhausted all other appropriate channels, but it may also happen without the person exhausting other channels, there are concerns.

The Committee further noted that the intention of the Bill is to encourage people to go the appropriate authorities in making disclosures.

Legal Draftsman of the Attorney General Chambers, Catriona Steele highlighted in her evidence before the BLC that the intention behind this is to do so – go to the appropriate channels in making disclosures.

“The Committee is concerned that in situations where all relevant channels provided for under the Bill have become ineffective or for some reason compromised, it would be good to encourage whistle-blowers to use the public media.

“Perhaps the public media ought to afford protections to journalists writing investigative articles,” the report strongly suggested.

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