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MPs attending the Anti Corruption Workshop at Ancient Tonga

A two-day workshop on Enhancing the Role of the Tonga Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Committee gets underway at Ancient Tonga, Nuku’alofa today.

The purpose of the training is to develop and build up the effectiveness of the Standing Committee on Anti Corruption and addressing collaborations between the parliamentary committee and key stakeholders at the national and regional levels.

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Mr. John Hyde of UNODC

Chairman of the Anti Corruption Committee Dr ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi delivered the welcoming speech and admits this training has been long overdue. It also coincides with the first day in office of Tonga’s first Anti-Corruption Commissioner, James Christopher LaHatte who takes up his five-year posting starting today.

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Dr. 'Uhilamoelangi Fasi - Chair of Anti Corruption Standing Committee.

Dr. ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi highlighted that corruption is everywhere and there is need to fight it whenever and wherever it happens. It is found in all countries big and small, rich and poor but it is in the developing world Tonga included that its effects are most destructive.

He said at the country level it hurts the poor hardest by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment.

At the global level, Dr. Fasi added that the establishment and adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) sends a clear message that the international community is determined to prevent and control corruption It also conveys a message to the corrupt people that betrayal of the public trust will no longer be tolerated.

Dr. Fasi also asserted the participants that corruption is a silent killer of local economies." That is why the Anti Corruption Committee has unique mandate in our Rules of Procedure which instructs them to work closely with both external stakeholders including the Pacific Triangle of Integrity as well as local stakeholders like civil society and youth to join in fighting corruption."

John Hyde of United Nation Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) is here in Tonga to facilitate the workshop. He told the MPs that Parliament has approved two Bills to amend the Anti Corruption Commissioner’s Act in February and March 2023 which paved the way for Tonga to have an Anti-Corruption Commissioner. The Anti-Corruption Act was enacted in Parliament in 2007.

Mr. Hyde who is also the Secretary of Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) said they have a strong engagement with Tonga since it acceded the UNCAC Convention. He said at 11:00 pm tonight local time, the Qatar Parliament in DOHA will endorse Dr. ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi as the new Chairman of GOPAC Oceania taking over from late Lord Fusitu’a. Hence, Hyde was delighted that Tonga’s strong engagement with anti-corruption continues at the regional and global level again.

John Hyde told the MPs there’s lots of technical information to be shared with them today and tomorrow aimed primarily to assist them with their legislative role in preventing corruption, fighting corruption and holding the Executive to account AND working in collaboration with integrity agencies.

The two-day workshop which concludes tomorrow is co-funded through a closer collaboration between the Tongan Parliament, UNODC and GOPAC.

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