History of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)
Historically, corruption issues have been dealt by constitutional offices such as Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Ombudsman Commission, Public Prosecutor and the Auditor General’s Office. Successive governments recognised the increasing need to more effectively address corruption. In 2004, the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare took this fight further when he signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), during the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa. This was subsequently ratified by Parliament in 2007.
In 2009, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2010-2030 was launched and following that the National Anti-Corruption Plan of Action (NACPA) was developed to bring all relevant agencies/bodies together to implement the NACS.
In 2014, Amendment No. 40/2014 was made to the Constitution, enabling the establishment of the ICAC, as well as paving the way for the enactment of the Organic Law on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (OLICAC).
In 2015, the first draft of the OLICAC Bill was presented in Parliament for deliberation and passage but was shelved due to the 2017 National General Election.
The Interim ICAC Office was established in 2018. The draft OLICAC Bill was then revisited and presented to Parliament. On 12th of November 2020, the Bill was unanimously passed by Parliament.
The Whistleblowers Act was also passed in 2020. An amendment was also made to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) for the Unexplained Wealth Provision whilst the Right to Information Draft Bill is being worked on and will be brought before Parliament.
The ICAC consists of a Commissioner and two Deputy Commissioners. The three inaugural Commissioners were sworn in by the Governor – General on the 4th of July 2023, essentially enabling the ICAC proper to come into effect.
With the ICAC now becoming operational, it will continue to grow as an independent constitutional office to fulfill its mandate over the coming years.