A multi-department strategy planning to tackle corruption in the Cook Islands will be presented to Cabinet early next year.
Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) financial secretary Garth Henderson said
the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) was in its final drafting stages.
has been presented to Cabinet in the early new year, I expect that we should
see a release to the general public. The drafting work has already included
comprehensive consultations already,” Henderson said.
It comes close to a decade after the Cook
Islands Government ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
During that time, the Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) of senior Government
officials has been working actively to combat corruption through inter-agency
Dr Jim Gosselin, who has helped prepare the document in support of the ACC,
said back in September that there would be a focus on prevention of corruption
and enforcement of corruption-related legislation.
there would be a stronger focus on protecting whistleblowers.
include arrangements for protecting the confidentiality of the whistleblower.
There would be procedures for them to point out corruption while also
maintaining their anonymity,” Gosselin said.
version of the NACS, released for consutlation in July, says: “While
many positive, anti-corruption related initiatives have been taken over the
years there are a number of further steps that can and will be taken to build
on those initiatives and further promote and strengthen anti-corruption
“The vast majority of public officials in the Cook Islands
carry out their responsibilities with diligence, honesty and integrity,” it
“At the same time, it is critically important that those
responsible for enforcing those laws, policies and procedures aimed at fighting
corruption, especially at the higher levels, are not only truly independent but
are seen by the people of the Cook Islands as trustworthy and having been
appointed solely based on professional merit and not having got their positions
as a result of nepotism, cronyism, kickbacks, political affiliations or other
reasons that might suggest to the people of the Cook Islands that they might
perform their duties in a partial manner.”
The draft NACS has also proposed establishing a National
Anti-Corruption Committee, (NACC) which would include representatives of civil
society, the private sector and an independent chair.
Investigation of specific instances of possible corruption
would be undertaken by current enforcement agencies such as the Police, the
Public Service Commission and the Ombudsman.
However, under the NACS, Government departments and other
bodies funded by Government would provide annual reports on their activities
for consideration by Parliament.