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Wednesday 2 May 2018

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will conduct a two days hearing into the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 starting this Thursday 3rd of May 2018 until Friday 4th.

The Bill was reintroduced after it was withdrawn from the Business Paper on the floor of Parliament on Monday 28th of August 2017.
Former Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare then sought leave under Standing Order 31(1) to move the motion to withdraw the original Bill which was introduced back in 2016. 

It was moved by the Prime Minister without notice under Standing Order 26 (1) due to the reasons, the Bills and Legislation Committee at that time had made some very good recommendations to improve the older version of the Bill.
Government had therefore seen the need to improve the Bill by including recommendations from the latter Bills and Legislations Committee thus the Bill was reintroduced in Parliament as a new Bill.

The object of the Anti-Corruption Bill is to give legislative effect to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by:

  • Creating new corruption offences to capture the full range of corrupt practices that may occur within the public sector or in the interaction between the public and private sectors.
  • Providing for the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences;
  • Establishing the Solomon islands independent commission against corruption; and
  • Introducing a wide range of measures to prevent corruption, including a national 
  • Anti-Corruption Strategy, public awareness activities about the effects and prevention of corruption, and assistance too public and private bodies in the prevention of corruption.

The reasons for the Bill are that:

  • Corruption in Solomon Islands appear to be widespread;
  • Corruption undermine development and sustain poverty, inhibits economic growth, drives politic instability, enable the unsustainable use of natural resources, impact the delivery of service and undermines good governance and the rule of law.

Solomon Islands acceded to UNCAC in January 2012 and is internationally obligated to have law in place to implement the convention. In 2014, the UN Office on Drug and Crime conducted a Review of Solomon Islands’ compliance with the UNCAC. It showed deficiencies in several areas in law and administration, in particular as regard the scope of the existing law and their effectiveness in preventing corruption.

The Government has accepted most of the recommendation in the UN Review, and the Anti-Corruption Unit in the office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has developed a policy on Anti-Corruption, one component of which is this Bill.

There are existing corruption offences in the Penal Code, but they do not cover the range of conduct that constitutes corruption adequately, and they are not well expressed or well understood. The Bill creates new offences apply to both the action of public officers and actions of individuals and private sector organization in their interaction with public officers.

The UN Review also recommended that Solomon Islands should have an institution dedicated to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption. This will be achieved by the establishment of the Solomon Islands Independent Commission against Corruption (SIICAC) by the Bill. The commission will be independent, with its own finances and staff, and will have the power to instigate prosecutions with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Bill seeks to ensure that the new Commission liaises with existing bodies that deal with maladministration (the Ombudsman) and misconduct in public officer (the Leadership Code Commission)   and amend the Panel Code to require various agencies to liaise with one another and share information for the purpose of investigation and prosecuting corruption offences. 
Stakeholders that will appear before the Bills and Legislation Committee under the Chairmanship of Hon. Mathew Wale include the Office of the Prime Minister, Legal Draftsperson, Transparency Solomon Islands, NCW, FSII, DSE, Law Reform Commission, Leadership Code Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Police (JANUS), Auditor General’s Office and Internal Audit.

The Bill in its current form is attached with Penal Code showing Amendments proposed by Anti-Corruption Bill 2017.