Transparency International New Zealand has joined other civil society voices calling for more action on Pacific regional commitments against corruption.
We urge Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders now meeting in Suva, Fiji to not forget that corruption plays a major role in undermining any progress in the region.
TINZ Chair Anne Tolley says that Transparency International chapters in the Pacific welcome Pacific Leaders recognition of the need to address corruption in the region and for regional unity against corruption. “Pacific leaders committed to address corruption in the 2020 Teieniwa Vision, which highlights the importance of strong leadership, political will, and substantiated anti-corruption efforts at the regional and national level. Now is the time for action on this commitment.”
A 2022 piece of research commissioned by TINZ on Corruption and Money Laundering in the Pacific highlights that insufficient attention has been paid to the link between corruption and money laundering, and the dirty money that flows from and through Pacific Island countries.
The Global Corruption Barometer - Pacific, which surveyed 6,000 people across ten Pacific countries and territories, suggest that corruption remains a very significant challenge, although the confidence of ordinary people that they can influence their leaders is strong.
“Pacific chapters of Transparency International have highlighted weaknesses that enable government wrongdoing to be concealed from the public” says Tolley. “These weaknesses include a lack of, or poor laws on right to information and whistle-blower protection. Pacific citizens have also reported being offered money for votes, or having threats if they did not vote in a certain way. In New Zealand we are seeing court action around political party funding. It is vitally important that electoral commissions and anticorruption agencies are strengthened to help deter this sort of behaviour.”
“Our colleagues across the Pacific have also raised concerns about restricted media freedom, such as government oversight of media In Fiji and the recent criminalisation defamation in Vanuatu. In Australia, press freedom is also fragile, undermining public interest journalism and transparency. Free press is a critical buttress of democracy.”
“Collaboration by all parts of society is needed to effectively combat corruption, with communities at the heart of this positive change for the common good. The Pacific people have hope and trust in Pacific Island Forum leaders to make meaningful reforms for fairer and more prosperous nations across the region.”