Parliament has passed the Ombudsman Bill 2016 marking a new chapter in the fight against corruption within the Government ministries and agencies.
The Bill tabled by Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare is one of the anti-corruption legislations the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has promised to get through parliament to address corruption.
The others are the Anti-Corruption Bill and the Whistleblowers Bill.
Some objectives of the Bill are:
· To safeguard the rights of individuals against maladministration, abuse of power or violations of fundamental human rights by the public authorities subject to his jurisdiction;
· To investigate and form opinions on complaints of defective public administration;
· To promote fairness, justice and equity in administrative action;
· To promote improved relationships between instruments of government at all levels, and the people;
· To promote the educative role of the Office of the Ombudsman;
· To promote awareness on the role and function of the Ombudsman – a right to complaint is not a right if a person is unaware of its existence;
· To identify and advise on how laws and regulations could be improved to render them more just and equitable; and
· To undertake own initiative investigations where it is in the public interest to do so.
Members of Parliament who contributed significantly to the deliberation on the Bill at the Committee of Supply stage were the Leader of the Independent Group and MP for North East Guadalcanal, Dr Derek Sikua, Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee and MP for North West Choiseul, Mr Connelly Sandakabatu, Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Mr Matthew Wale, Deputy Leader of Opposition and MP for Small Malaita, Mr Rick Hou, Leader of Opposition, Mr Jeremiah Manele, MP for East Honiara, Mr Douglas Ete and MP for Maringe/Kokota, Dr Culwick Togamana.
By AATAI JOHN