People reminded to take heed of procedures involved when reporting corruption

Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
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By Gary Hatigeva

PEOPLE who will be involved in or will choose to report matters of corruption to the Anti-Corruption Commission or Integrity officers have been reminded to take note of procedures and requirements that come with the new Anti-Corruption Legislation.

Deputy Prime Minister and the MP who had championed the AC Bill to its realistion, and now passed, Manasseh Sogavare made this reminder, following questions of anonymity raised in parliament yesterday, in relation to the AC Bill.

The DPM and Finance Minister reminded that people who will make complaints must be prepared to face it, and therefore take heed of the fact that their identity will at some point along the investigation, be revealed.

In his contribution on the area of anonymity, the Member of Parliament for Aoke Langalanga, Matthew Wale suggested for the identity of the complainant so that the accused know who their accusers are.

Also sharing similar sentiments, the Leader of Opposition and Member of Parliament for East Malaita, Manasseh Maelanga highlighted that the issue of revealing the identity of accusers should be well spelt in the bill because the accused has the right to sue people for what might be seen as defamation of characters.

He said so many have used similar opportunities to tarnish others only because of jealousy and personal grudges, as well as petty issues.

“That is why this issue needs clear indications as to how the clauses are laid in the proposed legislation regarding the issue of anonymity.”

In addition, Member of Parliament for Shortlands, Chris Laore questioned whether people with special needs especially, those who can’t speak for themselves, if the bill has captured the recognition of usage of sign languages for their reporting of complaints.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General, James Apaniai in support the Deputy Prime Minister’s explanations, referred to clause 57 in the Act, as a defence for officers to disclose identity of complainants in the process of the investigation of reported cases if required.

The Attorney General added that in the case where officers of the commission tempered with the information or secrecy of complainants without approval or being required, those who wish to take legal actions due to damages felt, the subjected persons can camouflage the AC Commission in it.

Therefore, people who feel their rights have been abused and images been tarnish, can take action against the commission in general and not the officers.

This is similar in nature in the case where information to protect both the anonymity and the matter against the accused are leaked through lower ranked officers, take for example, by a cleaner, the Prime Minister said it is the officer who carelessly left the documents exposed, will be held responsible.