PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela says the fight against corruption must be comprehensive and persistent.
The Prime Minister highlighted this in his speech during the second reading of the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017.
He said unlike other criminal offences like assaults; corruption is secretive and normally operates and thrives in the dark making it hard to prove a corruption allegation.
However, he stressed that there are three-prong approaches the Bill focuses on;
- the need to skilfully investigate corruption allegations and successfully prosecute them,
- the need to provide preventative measures through public education and training, and
III. the need for Government to work in coalition with the private sector, civil society and the international community in the fight against corruption.
Mr Houenipwela said the first includes the establishment of a new body, i.e. the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC).
“We need to develop and build up the capacity of a specialised body to investigate and prosecute corruption,” he said.
Hon. Houenipwela said it is justifiable to establish SIICAC to skilfully investigate and successfully prosecute corruption being that the nature and sophistication of the work of SIICAC does not necessarily fit into the mandates of existing institutions like the Leadership Code Commission, the Ombudsman or the Police.
The Prime Minister said the second approach, “stems from our conviction that it is cheaper for the country to prevent corruption rather than just wait for complaints, investigate and prosecute corruption.”
“The core functions of SIICAC has been constructed to ensure that it will pursue vigorously public education on the effect of corruption and, likewise, implement schemes embedded in the Act, that will ensure all public institutions, companies and organisations in Government and the non-government sector do take steps to prevent corruption,” he said.
He further stated that the third approach requires Government to work in coalition with other stakeholders.
“This approach is based on a lesson we have learned; that the fight against corruption is NOT just a fight by the Government. It is a fight by all of us Solomon Islanders. It is our fight and we can only be effective in our respective fights if we work collaboratively together,” Prime Minister Houenipwela said.
He also emphasised the need to collaborate with the international community.
The Prime Minister said this need for collaborative efforts curtail from the fact that we need to keep pace with the ever increasing sophistication of corrupt practices.
“We need to acknowledge the fact that corruption is a cross-border problem to all countries around the world.
“The proceeds of corruption syphoned out of the country need to be recovered and returned to Solomon Islands; and those who have fled the country after committing an act of corruption need to be extradited back to stand trial.”
–PM PRESS SECRETARIAT