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August 15, 2020
Featured News Papua New Guinea Politics

Loop Holes Identified in New ICAC Law

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The PNG Ombudsman Commission has identified loopholes in various sections of the ICAC bill, which is now out for consultation before it is read the third time and passed as a law in parliament.

Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen appeared before the parliamentary committee and highlighted sections of the new ICAC Bill that infringes on other constitutional office duties including that of the Ombudsman Commission.

He highlighted mostly three areas he thinks the new law when passed will duplicate or take away functions from existing agencies.

The Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea is the custodian of the Constitution and keeps a close watch on it.

The new ICAC Bill is a step away from being made a new Law in the country, and Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen says it has already taken away some responsibilities of the Ombudsman Commission, The Police and the Public Prosecutor quoting different sections of the new bill that infringe on the functions of these three constitutional offices.

Section 3 of the new ICAC Bill takes away certain functions of the police by taking away the criminal code, Section 5 takes away functions of the Ombudsman on the leadership Code and Section 34 takes away functions of the Public Prosecutor.

This has left the Chief Ombudsman to question what becomes of these constitutional offices.

Other parts of the new law he thinks is not in harmony with parts of the constitution include S13 that address the Chairman and its deputies as Officers, section 220 of the ICAC Bill that pronounces this office to be subjected to oversight among other.

He says this new commission should be independent and not subject to oversight if it is serious in dealing with corruption as Ombudsman Commission enjoys independence without influence in their investigations.

Ombudsman Pagen said when the bill was in its draft stages back in 2013, they provided their input for changes to be made but seems these were not taken into consideration.

And as custodians of the constitution, they are given powers under S19 to seek Supreme Court Action if the new law does not harmonize with police, the ombudsman commission, and public prosecutor.

Interim Chairman of ICAC, Thomas Eluh, however, said the new law will complement the work of these constitutional offices and not duplicate and be taken away in any way.

He also assured Ombudsman Pagen that the bill went through the different processes before being finalized including going through the first legislative council and the State Solicitor.

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