Sunday, 30 August 2009 9:40 PM

How to prosecute MP's

Firstly, I'd like to thank Mr. Manu'ari for taking the time to read and respond to my views. Secondly, I'd like to reply to some points raised in his arguments. This reply is mainly based on the Leadership Code Commission and its powers.

I believe the Leadership Code Commission according to the establishing legislation does have powers to refer matters to the court. I believe upon the conclusion of inquiries they have 4 options.
i) If they feel that the allegations had no substance then they may declare so,
ii) Secondly, if they feel that a leaders conduct is of a minor nature they may warn or reprimand the Leader,
iii) Thirdly, if they feel that the Leaders actions warrant a greater punishment they may impose a fine. However, the fine is not to exceed five thousand dollars,
iv) And finally, if the Commission feels that the Leaders actions constitute a greater punishment then they may refer the case to the High Court.

I do not think that once the Commission has come to the end of its inquiries the burden is still on us members of the public to follow up on a case.

With regards to the Anti corruption unit established by the CID, I am not too sure of its powers to investigate MP's. I believe the courts have already declared that the police do not have powers to investigate MP's in their capacity as MP's. I believe the reason that some of the charges laid on MP's previously did not hold up in court was because in law there are different definitions of what a public servant is. Consequently, a charge against a public officer (or MP) would have to be the right one (I think the Penal Code and the Constitution have different definitions of a public servant). Another important reason to be aware of such procedures!

Another reason I doubt the CID's power to investigate MP's is because our Constitution established the Act (Leadership Code (Amendments) Act 1999) which in turn establishes the Leadership Code Commission. The Constitution also provides that the subsequent legislation (Leadership Code (Amendments) Act 1999) would cater for 'public servants' in which it defined an MP as one of the many public servants listed. In effect the Constitution explains the procedures applicable to MP's should they breach the law. The fact that they have a set procedure to deal with MP's would also be a reason as to the penalties being different from the ones available in the Penal Code.

Furthermore, I believe the fact that the laws have installed a different way of 'prosecuting' an MP is because they imply that a high standard of conduct is required of them in their position as MP's unlike any other types of employment.

But I do agree with Mr. Manu'ari that the Leadership Code Commission does have its weaknesses. The above discussion is only the theoretical side of things. What is practiced may be different altogether from what is on paper.

Please continue this constructive discussion.

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

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