Thursday, 27 August 2009 1:07 PM

How to prosecute MPs

Dear Editor,

I wish to contribute to John Iko's article regarding the procedure of prosecuting MPs in relation to misuse of RCDF.

As he has rightfully stated, LCC is one way of prosecuting our MPs if they are guilty of misuse. However, with LCC it has its own procedures and its punitive powers are within realm of specified penalties. It can penalise any MPs it holds guilty within its own jurisdiction and does not have the power to refer matters to court, unless constituents themselves follow-up on a case and refer the matter to courts after the LCC has dealth with it.

The Leadership Code Commission (Further Provisions) Act 1999, under which LCC is established is quite outdated and I am aware that currently it is being reviewed. But as it stands today, it has few weaknesses. As I have mentioned earlier its first weakness is that it cannot refers matters directly to the courts. Hence, while it can make its own investigations and makes it own judgements, the onus is still on us ordinary citizens to follow-up on a case and refer the matter to the courts.

Another current weakness of LCC is that its penalities are insufficient and are inconsistent with other laws such as the criminal code. For instance, in 2007 an MP who was found giulty of misusing RCDF was only asked to pay a fine by LCC and the fine he paid was even less than the money (RCDF) he misused. If it had been a criminal matter, dealth with under the criminal code by the codes, it would have been a more tougher penalty or imprisonment. Having said that, I am aware however that the LCC Act is currently under review and hopefully with this review its punitive measures can be expanded and be made consistent with the criminal code.

I would also like to add to what John has said regarding the nature of MPs as politicians and not as public officers. As he has rightfully stated to prosecute MPs is not a straight-forward process such as dealing with public officers. This is quite unfortunate but that is how our laws stands. As we have seen in the past, there were MPs who could have beed imprisoned but because they were charged with offenses that were not fitting for them to be charged with as politicians such cases were defeated in court. Hence, when undertaking individual cases against MPs it is important that the charges laid are relevant because MPs are not public officers and as the law stands some offenses that can be charged against public officers are not applicable to MPs.

That is why it is important that we as orrdinary citizens must make use of the Police Anti-corruption Unit which is established within the police CID to deal with allegtions of corruption, not only by MPs but public officers and ordinary citizens as well. All a person has to do is to go to the police and report a case to them and they will do all the investigation and will also lay relevant and appropriate charges accordingly.

As John has emphasised, if anyone out there has any legitimate allegations then thats the way to go. We can make a change and set a better precedence for our future by actively engaging with governance institutions and the police.

Hem nomoa. GOD BLESS SOLOMON ISLANDS.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Derick Manu'ari and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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