A ‘FAMILIARIZATION”  WORKSHOP was held last week on the 15th and the 16th at the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission Conference Room in Port Vila. Several agencies from the corruption and criminal complaints sector were involved in this initiative. The two days of discussions brought around more realisations and understandings into the workings of the different agencies, including identifying specific paths to undertake in the future.

Participants at the familiarization workshop were the Ombudsman of the Republic of Vanuatu Mr. Kalkot Mataskelekele including an Investigator. Also included was an officer from the Public Service Compliance Unit, senior officers from the Vanuatu Police
Force Criminal Investigations Depart and the Fraud Unit, officers from the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Chairman of the Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) Dr. Willie Tokon, including staff members.

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The workshop was organised under a project initiated by Transparency International Vanuatu called L.I.N.K
(Leftemap Intekriti, No Korapsen) . It was a participatory workshop, each participating agency was allocated an hour to present on several relevant topics before the other participants could seek clarification on some of the points presented.

This familiarisation workshop was organised for several reasons. First of all, during an Anti-Corruption workshop that was held at the Le Lagoon by UNCAC, UNDP and the Ministry of Justice. The participants at LINKthe workshop, which included several Parliamentarians, identified the lack of effective relationships between anti-corruption institutions in Vanuatu. A participant from the workshop elaborated on the fact that the relationship between anti-corruption institutions is lacking in a lot of areas, there is the habit of being isolated from the same community of practice.

Furthermore, even though Vanuatu has achieved several achievements there are still challenges that combat the increase of anti-corruption measures, especially the lack of political will, insufficient resources and the lack of institutional and human resources capacity.

As a way forward from that workshop it was agreed by the participants that the Government must urgently review the Ombudsman Act, provide more community awareness programs and provide sufficient budget to support anti-corruption agencies. The government must also draft an Anti-Corruption Policy and Legislation to make sure that we have to be well equipped to fight against corruption to increase our status in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

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At the end of that workshop, an outcome statement was presented to the Government. A priority in the statement included the need to strengthen inter-agency coordination and cooperation on corruption and criminal issues.

Secondly, in 2014 the National Integrity System (NIS) report for Vanuatu was published by TIV after a year of doing research on the national pillars. The report identified that Vanuatu does not have “an independent preventive anti-corruption body or bodies. The activities of this body could include: developing laws and policies relating to anti-corruption; overseeing and coordinating the implementation of anti-corruption policies; increasing and disseminating knowledge about how to prevent corruption; and supporting the development of a government/non-government anti-corruption coalition.” (Download NIS Report here)

The report further recommended that if there was more inter-agency coordination’s it could be “could be important in providing expertise and advice” on anti-corruption policies.

Thus, the L.I.N.K Project was initiated with the goal of promoting exchanges and developing mutual understanding so each office can become more familiar with each other’s responsibilities, and at the same time look at ways to strengthen each other against challenges faced.

The first day of the workshop was facilitated by an officer from TIV, while the officer from the Public Service Compliance Unit facilitated the discussions on the second.

Several resolutions were set out by the workshop to further the discussions for potential future collaborations between the participating agencies.

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