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Corruption is a destructive phenomenon across the world, including Pacific Islands, and threatens the region’s sustainable development. It is a signifixcant and complex issue, with many causes and many negative results. Unfortunately, neither corruption, nor its negative impacts are well understood in Pacific Islands.

Today members of the Tongan Media took part in a one day training on anti-corruption which was organised by the United Nations Convention on Corruption and UNDP Tonga office. Participants were informed of various levels of corruption. 

As it can occur at all levels of society and across all sectors, which can make it seem too widespread and too difficult to tackle. It often involves actors at the highest levels - that is, within government and business. If not tackled, it can also become a way of life for individuals and communities and people should not use culture as an excuse for corruption practises but rather draw a clear boundary to differentiate the two.

The Tonga Commissioner of Public Relations and former Minister of Justice Mr ‘Aisea Taumoepeau, briefed participants on the existing and amended legislation within the Constitution that allows the establishment of an anti-corruption commission. He clarified the difference between the ombudsman agency and an anti-corruption commission.

One of the data presented during the training revealed that:
“In 2011, the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranked Tonga 95th out of 182 countries in the world on the corruption scale. We had a score of 3.1 on a scale of 10. In the Asia Pacific Region, Tonga ranked 17th out of 35”

According to Mr. John Hyde (UNDP Anti-Corruption Consultant) who lead the training stated the figure is about 4 years old and Tonga has come so far in a short period of time to lead its Pacific Island neighbors as the only country whom its Parliament has approved to establish a standing committee on anti-corruption.

Participants are expected to;

  • Understand and explain UNCAC and anti-corruption in the Pacific
  • Understanding existing anti-corruption mechanism in Tonga along with pending mechanism;
  • Understanding the role of the media in highlights UNCAC and anti-corruption and how to influence policy-making
  • Demonstrate an enhancement in investigative journalism skills (to name a few)

The training will conclude tomorrow with representatives from Civil Society organizations.

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