Combatting corruption in the Pacific
Through the Pacific Law and Justice Program, the Pacific Section in the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) aims to strengthen Pacific regional and bilateral cooperation, collaboration and coordination on law and justice issues, develop Pacific law and justice capacity, and improve Pacific policing and criminal law related legal frameworks.
One of our key roles is to support the Pacific Islands Law Officers' Network (PILON). PILON is a network of senior law officers from 19 Pacific Island countries, including Australia and New Zealand, who work together to contribute to a safe and secure Pacific by advancing key law and justice issues. AGD represents Australia in PILON and is a member of the PILON Cybercrime, Sexual and Gender based Violence and Corruption Working Groups.
Over the past few years, the Corruption Working Group has focused on combatting corruption in the Pacific Islands through strengthening whistleblowing initiatives in the Pacific. AGD has supported a range of capacity building initiatives in this space such as online webinars, developing guiding principles on whistleblower protections, and developing a draft policy on whistleblower protections in the Pacific.
Earlier this year the PILON Corruption Working Group developed a two-part animated video series on whistleblowing. The videos are an important awareness raising tool designed to educate both government employees and members of the public in the Pacific on the impacts of corruption on the community and to encourage whistleblowing.
The Pacific experiences a unique set of cultural challenges to reporting wrong doing. People are often closely linked by kinship, clan or other ties and whistleblowers may be related to the person perpetrating the wrongdoing. This is a significant barrier to reporting, and may result in social exclusion, a reputation as a 'troublemaker' and other reprisals. Commentators have written on the 'culture of silence' in the Pacific, in which authority and communal structures act as a disincentive to speak out.
The first video aims to address this by showing that it's okay to speak up, because corruption impacts the community.
Fear of retaliation is often cited as the main disincentive for reporting wrongful conduct. Commonly reprisals can be directed to the whistleblower's personal safety, social welfare, employment or can be in the form of legal attacks.
The theme of the second video is 'reporting without fear' and shows that there are frameworks in place designed to protect a whistleblower.
The PILON Corruption Working Group has also developed a range of material to accompany the videos to assist Pacific Island government agencies start a conversation about corruption in the public sector.
To view the materials, visit the Pacific Islands Law Officers' Network website.
If your agency is interested in working with the Pacific Section on anti-corruption capacity building activities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Pacific Section, Attorney-General's Department