Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) is an anti – corruption agency that fights against corruption in the Public Sector of Fiji.
The Commission was established in 4 April 2007 to investigate and prosecute corruption and bribery related offences in the country.
It aims to protect public interest, prevent breach of public trust and guide the conduct of public officials.
The FICAC Promulgation 2007 governs the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and to maintain its independence, it reports directly to His Excellency the President of Fiji.
FICAC continues to effectively promote the enforcement of its laws in combating Corruption as well as supporting its initiatives with the media and members of the public to build on the partnerships and collaborations to spread the message of anti – corruption.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is headed by a Deputy Commissioner who is Mr George Westlake Langman.
The Bavadra Government had initially proposed for the setting up of an anti-corruption commission in Fiji in 1987. The Bavadra Coalition Government that came into power outlined a number of proposed changes in policy, introduced small but significant social welfare benefits in its short time in office, and promised to investigate government corruption.
In 1999, the then Attorney General and Minister for Justice issued a Terms of Reference to the Fiji Law Reform Commission to carry out a study on the extent of corruption and bribery in Fiji and recommended the possible need for the establishment of an independent body to deal with corruption. The Bribery & Corruption Report of 2003 was tabled in Parliament under the Parliamentary Paper No 85 of 2004. The Report was titled ‘Building an Anti-Corruption Culture for Fiji’.
In 2004, two high-level government delegations visited Papua New Guinea and Malaysia to study their anti-corruption laws after it was acknowledged by the government that there were high incidences of corruption and bribery in all levels of the Fiji public sector.
Cabinet agreed in principle to the establishment of an anti-corruption body by legislation and to address a host of other issues which are all relevant to the fight against corruption, including:
- . international co-operation and mutual assistance in criminal matters
- . institutional strengthening and training;
- . additional tools for investigations and prosecutions;
- . development of codes of ethics;
- . public awareness issues;
- . whistleblower legislation;
- . support for the Legislature, Judiciary & Executive arms of Government; and the independence of the new Authority.
In 2005, the Fiji Government announced that it was in the process of drafting the relevant legislations that would give birth to the establishment of a corruption commission. In April 2007, the Government approved the establishment of an Anti-Corruption body.
The primary objective of the FICAC Promulgation is to promote the integrity and accountability of public administration. This is enhanced through the establishment of FICAC to:
• Investigate and Prosecute Corruption and Bribery related offences
• Examine and advise government of its practices and procedures that are conducive to corruption
• Educate and enlist public support in combating corruption
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) is committed to effectively combat corruption in order to promote transparency and accountability for the attainment of zero tolerance of corruption, set the foundation for good governance and create sustainable development for the benefit of all citizens of Fiji.
FICAC’s participation in the UNCAC
Under the 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, FICAC in exercising its powers and performing its functions and duties, shall be guided by the standards established under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
The UNCAC is the first international legally binding instrument on anti – corruption and provides a unique tool to address this global problem.
In effect since December 2005, the Convention, of which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the guardian covers four main areas: Prevention, Criminalization and Law Enforcement measures, International Cooperation and Asset Recovery.
Importantly as the sole universal legal anti – corruption instrument, the Convention contains innovative and globally accepted anti – corruption standards applicable to both the public and private sectors.
Fiji ratified the Convention on 14 May 2008 and is obliged to implement the 71 articles of the Convention and is the first global initiative to address the seriousness of corruption internationally.
In 2009, Fiji (FICAC) was amongst the twenty-nine countries selected out of 192 countries under the UNCAC’s experimental Pilot programme.
France and Serbia carried out the initial review of Fiji whilst Bangladesh and the United States of America (USA) carried out the second review in 2011.
Fiji was the only nation in the South Pacific to be selected.
Under the Convention, FICAC has received international recognition and can access technical assistance and knowledge sharing.
FICAC’s achievements since 2007
Since its establishment in 2007 to 2014, FICAC has received a total of 44 242 complaints. The Commission has seen a steady rise in complaints received from the general public.
The introduction of the FICAC Toll free line, which was established in 2011, was a strong contributor of this with a total of 9322 complaints called in.
There was a decrease in complaints in 2013, which has been attributed to the awareness campaigns made to the public in regards to what Corruption is and FICAC’s jurisdiction.
Since 2009, a total of 20 955 individuals attended FICAC’s awareness sessions including Government Departments, Schools, Public and Private bodies as well as members from the community level.
FICAC has also gained recognition from the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime as a focal point to support its initiative to combat corruption and as the National Anti Corruption body in Fiji.