Nadi, Fiji – An interactive session designed to discuss specific challenges when investigating and prosecuting corruption in the Pacific, is the main purpose of the gathering of investigators, prosecutors and law enforcement officials from 15 Pacific Island countries and territories.
The United Nations Pacific Regional Anticorruption (UN-PRAC) Project yesterday opened a three-day Training for Investigators and Prosecutors in Nadi with the aim of collaborating and enhancing their capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption.
“The sessions are designed to be practical and interactive, and the participants will work together on problems based on real investigations. While bringing in international best practices, the training will consider specific challenges that small Pacific States are facing,” said Mihaela Stojkoska from UN-PRAC.
The training will also discuss the preparation of an investigation plan, the analysis of evidence such as financial records and the questioning of potential targets.
Niue Police Sergeant Ramona Jackson highlighted some Pacific specific challenges when he said, “Niue has a population of approximately 1,500, meaning criminal investigations often lead to prosecuting family members”.
Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption State Counsel, Sanjana Datt said, “I have seen the challenges investigators face in terms of collecting evidence and witnesses not coming forward.”
Others spoke of challenges in international cooperation. Special Prosecutor Steven Killelea from the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Palau said his office had worked to increase the information sharing between countries.
“The major challenge is access to off-island records, along with securing off-island compliance with subpoenas,” he added.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) primary training facilitator, Jason Reichelt said, “The common theme that we heard in the introductions was that a lot of the cases involved political elements.”
While stating the difficulty, this posed, he pointed out that prosecuting corruption among politicians was not impossible, emphasizing recent successes in the region.
Globally, corruption is considered one of the most difficult crimes to investigate and prosecute. It can involve just two satisfied parties, and nobody with any incentive to reveal the truth.
Representative from the Solomon Islands Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Bradley Dalipanda said, “I think this workshop will really help our investigators on the JANUS team, the anti-corruption task force from the Solomon Islands. Lately, the corrupt are very smart and sometimes they don’t use banks or financial institutions.”
He added that information on tracing money trails would be helpful in prosecuting money laundering offences as well as predicate offences.
Participants noted that opportunities like these are encouraging as they demonstrate that the support of international organizations is not only rhetorical, but that they place actual resources towards the fight against corruption.
The training is the result of several specific requests from Pacific countries and it concludes on Wednesday 14 June 2017.
UN-PRAC is a four-year initiative jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and UNODC with funding from the Australian Government. The project aims to strengthen Pacific Island countries national integrity systems that will promote clean governments and create an enabling environment for trade, business, investment, and for sustainable development to increase in the region.
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