Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption was established on 4 April 2007 to investigate acts of corruption in Fiji. To ensure independence, the Commissioner will be directly accountable to the President of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and will be accountable only to him, so no one will be above the law of corruption, whether politician or Government employee or ordinary citizen alike. The Deputy commissioner of FICAC is Mr George Westlake Langman.
The history for setting up an anti-corruption commission in Fiji was earlier mooted by the Bavadra Government 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 November 2006, the Government approved the establishment of an Anti-Corruption body.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) was established on 4 April 2007 to investigate acts of corruption by Public Officers, employees of government and government-related organisations.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is governed by the FICAC Promulgation 2007 and to maintain its independence, it reports directly to His Excellency the President.
The application for Managing the Corruption Cases of FICAC is provided by Yalamanchili Software Exports, INDIA.
Created on 4 April 2007 to tackle corruption, and to put in place a system of control and to lift the integrity of public administration which had deteriorated over the years.
To enforce the strength of FICAC, the The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption Promulgation 2007 (Corruption Promulgation) and the Prevention of Bribery Promulgation 2007 (Bribery Promulgation were introduced and passed by the Interim Government of the same year.
FICAC has three main functions:
• Investigating and publicly exposing corrupt conduct so lessons may be learned and its recurrence is minimized
• Actively preventing corruption by giving advice and assistance to build resistance to corruption in the public sector
• Educating the community on the evils of corruption and creating a strong anti corruption environment
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) is committed to effectively combating 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
The Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption is made up of all the nations that have recognised the Convention. The UNCAC encourages assistance between developed and developing countries in the fight against corruption.
Currently 140 countries around the globe are signatories and 128 parties have ratified the Convention. Since Fiji's accession of the Convention, it has received recognition for their commitment in implementing the UNCAC.
To effectively benefit from the Convention, a Pilot Review Programme was established.
The Pilot Review Programme
The Pilot Review Programme is an assessment mechanism developed to assist in reviewing the implementation of the Convention by States Parties. It is basically a forum that provides opportunities to share good practices and challenges faced by nations and an approach to foster cooperation between countries.
29 out of the 128 states parties to the UNCAC are participating in the Pilot Review Programme for the implementation of the Convention. Fiji is included as one of the 29 countries. These State Parties in the Pilot Review Programme are required to complete a self-assessment checklist. The checklist will be analysed by a group of experts appointed by the Secretariat of the UNCAC.
FICAC has completed the UNCAC self-assessment checklist and this will be reviewed by France and Serbia. Fiji and Peru have been appointed by the UNCAC Secretariat to review the Philippines.
Reports from country reviews are expected to be finalized by mid-2009 and the Conference of States Parties will decide how best to help countries in terms of combating corruption by providing technical assistance.
FICAC’s achievements in 2008
FICAC achieved a milestone with its first conviction in December 2008 with the sentencing of a public official to 18 months imprisonment by the Labasa Magistrates Court.
The public official pleaded guilty to six counts of "Larceny by servant".
Between 2007 and 2008 FICAC had received a total of 4,291 complaints. 1521 of these complaints were referred to other government departments.
FICAC has charged 35 Public Servants and two businessmen. These cases are set for trial in 2009. Majority of the cases have been charged with ‘Abuse of Office’. However FICAC has successfully resolved 492 cases through mediation processes. This is the negotiation between the complainant and the subject of the complaint.
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.
In February 2009, FICAC expanded its operations to the Western Division with the opening of an office in Lautoka.