The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill currently on the floor of Parliament has raised numerous questions on its operation if and when it will be enforced especially on whether it will encroach into the function of the Ombudsman Commission.
The Acting Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen when answering questions relating to that said the establishment of ICAC will not encroach into the work of the Ombudsman Commission nor will it affect the operations of the Ombudsman Commission as ICAC and the Ombudsman Commission are two different entities.
“The Ombudsman Commission was also part of the drafting of the ICAC bill, we know exactly how it is going to work unless there were changes done before it was debated on the floor of Parliament”, the Acting Chief Ombudsman said.
Acting Chief Ombudsman Pagen made these comments during the presentation of the Ombudsman Commission 2016 and 2017 Annual Reports to the Governor-General on Tuesday 30th July 2020.
He added that the difference between ICAC and the Ombudsman Commission is that ICAC when established will deal with cases involving leaders that are criminal in nature. The Ombudsman Commission on the other hand, deals with compliance issues involving governmental bodies under the Organic law on the Ombudsman Commission and leaders’ conducts under the Organic law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.
The roles of the ICAC and the Ombudsman Commission are complimentary rather than duplicating or encroaching.
Questions were also raised on whether the Ombudsman Commission Office will close when ICAC comes into operation.
“People need to be made aware that the Commission is mentioned at least 33 times in the Constitution of Papua New Guinea. To remove the Ombudsman Commission would involve major amendments to the Constitution of Papua New Guinea, which will affect the establishment of numerous government entities, said the Acting Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen.
The role of the Ombudsman Commission is enshrined into the foundation of this nation – the Constitution.