Over 30 journalists from Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu recently participated in a two-day workshop on the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Awareness Training for Pacific Media in Tonga. The training provided insights into the Convention and the work of the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project. In doing so, the training aimed to build the capacity of selected journalists to prevent, detect and investigate cases of corruption through greater awareness of UNCAC and the media’s role as a non-state actor.
In his welcoming address, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano, noted the essential role media have to play in combatting corruption and helping reduce its adverse impacts on a country’s development.
Annika Wythes, Anti-Corruption Adviser – Pacific, with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, added “the question is no longer ‘why’ we should be fighting corruption, but rather ‘how’. The general consensus – supported by the number of ratifying countries – is that the platform to be used is the UN Convention against Corruption.”
“UNCAC is unique in that it provides a holistic approach, adopting prevention and enforcement measures for criminalizing corrupt behaviours. The Convention addresses the transnational nature of corruption through international cooperation and the recovering of the proceeds of corruption like stolen assets.”
“While governments, the private sector and civil society have essential roles to play, media involvement and commitment is also vital because of their role as public watchdog, protecting public interests and raising awareness,” she added.
The workshop was an eye opener for many media participants, including Fiji Times journalist Luke Rawalai.
“With the resources provided throughout the training, I now know of other offices and organizations not only in Fiji but in the Pacific region that one can go to report about corrupt acts,” said Mr. Rawalai. “I’m looking forward to going back home and liaising with the focal persons of these offices when developing my stories.”
Echoing these thoughts, Antoine Malsungai from Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation said “the workshop was excellent as it gave us another milestone on how to deal with corruption in our respective countries…it was helpful in that it has given us a lot of opportunities to tackle corruption with new ways and techniques.”
“Learning about the UN Convention against Corruption will allow us to really tackle issues of public interest here in Vanuatu,” Mr. Malsungai added.
The training was an activity of the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption project, a four-year joint initiative of UNDP and UNODC, supported by the Australian Government. UNDP’s Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme, also supported by the Australian Government, assisted in the training.