OUTGOING Police Commissioner Matthew Varley thinks that the solution for fighting corruption in Solomon Islands is having strong rules, procedures and system of good governance.
Varley made the remarks when asked if he regarded the escape by ‘big fish’ following recent court cases is one of the low lights of his time as commissioner.
“People talk about big fish, my argument is that the systems need to be tightened,” Varley told reporters.
“…..and then of course we will have a better chance of holding those who break the rules to account,” he added.
Varley said the solution for corruption in Solomon Islands is not through enforcement.
“Yes enforcement, courts and prosecutions have a role to do in terms of holding people to account for breaking the rules.
“There is no doubt about that.
“But the rules and the procedures and the system of good governance in public life have to be strong.
“People have to know that money can’t be misused or that there are proper checks and balances in place, that if you are a public office holder, you must do the right thing and abide by it.
“…and off course that requires a whole range of efforts across government across ministries to strengthened systems so that accountability and transparency is better.
“So the police and the courts step in when someone breaks those rules but prevention is better,” Varley further added.
He said he was disappointed they did not have more successes with the cases involving MPs.
He said they tried their hardest.
“The cases we put before the court, we have good files, good evidence, and we put them to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).”
He said the DPP sanction the charges of those cases.
“Of course, our system of justice rests on the decisions made by the independent referee, being the judge or magistrate.
“And I never criticised the decision of the court in this.
“What I have said is that the decision of those cases illustrates how hard it is to prosecute corruption in the Solomon Island under the old system.
“But remember all those cases were before the new anti-corruption laws were inactive late last year.
“…so we sort of we are fighting cases with one hand tied behind our back but based on old offences under the Penal Code for example.
“Now the new anti-corruption laws are stronger.
“And I think in the future that works well for the fight against corruption in the Solomon Islands.”
Varley said they have quite a lot of case files on their books for historical corruption matters and many of those involved high profile public figures or former public figures.
“But a complaint and investigation does not necessarily mean that there is a prosecution.
“Like we investigate and receive complaints all the time and then only those that we have sufficient evidence, we put to the DPP.
“The thing about corruption in this country is probably not a week or two goes by when someone does not send a complaint to me of some level of corruption in the country somewhere whether that is in business or provincial affairs or national affair.”
The outgoing police chief said a lot of people are complaining about corruption in this country.
“I think that is something people need to listen to and take seriously because the fact that so many complaints are occurring should tell us that something is wrong.
“I think the government has recognised all of these with the introduction of the bills and the laws last year.
“And I look forward to them establishing the “Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC)in 2020.
“I know that work is progressing.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN