Fiji Minister to address corruption in Parliament and Police

Participants of the Transparency International Pacific Regional Meeting held in Suva, Fiji recently
(Integrity Fiji Photo from Twitter)

Debbie Gee
Wellington, April 8, 2023

Developing a regional approach to combat corruption in the Pacific was one of the focus areas for the Transparency International Pacific Regional Meeting held in Suva, Fiji.

The week-long event, held from February 27 to March 3, 2023, focused on sharing knowledge and experience, building capability, strengthening cross-regional advocacy and collaboration and generating ideas for training and fundraising.

The meeting was enthusiastically hosted by Integrity Fiji, which is well on its way to being re-established as a full Transparency International Chapter including providing a traditional Fijian dinner and performances.

Pacific Chapter representatives from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea joined Integrity Fiji, Transparency International’s Pacific Regional Secretariat and representatives from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). The meeting built on the Transparency International Indo-Pacific Partnership for Strong, Transparent, Responsive and Open Networks for Good Governance 2020-2023 Asia Pacific Programme (TI IPP STRONGG) Meeting held in Bali last November, this time placing the lens squarely and solely on the Pacific.

Reducing Corruption

TI IPP STRONGG is a four-year programme that aims to contribute to reduced corruption in the Indo-Pacific region. It hopes to achieve this objective by empowering a strong and independent civil society voice and network that can mobilise action in support of increased accountability of public and private institutions nationally and regionally.

The programme is funded by the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and MFAT.

The Fiji meeting moved from review and reflection, including presentations from each Chapter and Integrity Fiji, through planning for this year and concluding with advocacy, engagement, capacity building and planning beyond 2023.

Common threads were geopolitical tensions and influence, regional money laundering, and beneficial ownership, with Pacific Chapters seeking strategies to tackle these on a regional, as well as country-specific basis.

There was also discussion about how Transparency International (TINZ) and Transparency International Australia (TIA) could support other Pacific Chapters in areas such as money laundering, open government, budget transparency, infrastructure and mining.

Participants’ response

Feedback for the meeting highlighted the quality of the workshops and plenaries as well as the logistics. The overall engagement over the three days was lively, collegial, and constructive.

A highlight was a panel event, a six-hour live event that was streamed online. It explored Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Pacific 2021, which for the first time recorded perceptions and experiences of corruption among ordinary citizens in seventeen Pacific Island countries and territories.

It revealed that Pacific Islanders believe corruption is a big problem in both their governments and the business sector.

Significantly, the event was opened by Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, who stayed for the duration, as did the Executive Director of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC). The Minister acknowledged the GCB Pacific report, particularly noting the corruption levels among Members of Parliament and Police in Fiji.

He committed to sharing the report in Parliament.

The regional meeting concluded with a visit and meeting with FICAC.

Debbie Gee is a Director on the Board of the Wellington-based Transparency International. She attended the Regional Meeting held in Suva, Fiji along with Chief Executive Julie Haggie. The above article appeared in the April 2023 issue of Transparency Times.

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