Koror, Palau – The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), published a summary of its recent anonymous survey results at a May 22, 2023, live stream forum held at the West Plaza Hotel.
A UN grant for improving access to Open Government and the reporting of government corruption was provided to the OSP. The survey was a tool to find out whether corruption was observed in the Palauan governments, state and/or national, and if so, whether and to whom it was reported, the blocks to reporting, and suggestions for improvement.
OSP Special Prosecutor, April D. Cripps, and Assistant Special Prosecutor, Mr. Inia Rakaria Tikomaimaleya were moderators. The panel consisted of respected members of Palauan society including Bilung Gloria Salii, Mr. Joel Toribiong, Ms. Baklai T. Chilton, along with Ms. Annika Wythes and Mr. John Hyde from the UNODC.
Ms. Wythes briefly highlighted the world’s only legally-binding, anti-corruption instrument, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), to which there are 189 States parties including Palau. UNCAC is unique in its holistic approach, adopting prevention and enforcement measures, including mandatory requirements for criminalizing corrupt behaviors. The Convention also reflects the transnational nature of corruption, providing an international legal basis for enabling international cooperation and recovering proceeds of corruption.. Mr. Hyde briefly gave an overview of the Teieniwa Vision, Pacific Unity Against Corruption, which complements UNCAC and acts as a regional roadmap for all the Pacific Island countries to address corruption.
The anonymous survey asked 11 questions concerning corruption in Palau with 221 persons responding. A highlight of the forum included publishing the survey responses, which showed that 86.70% of respondents observed government corruption. Of those that observed corruption, 76.85% did not report it, with 58.19% believing reporting corruption would make no difference. Additionally, almost 65% of those who reported corruption stated the matter was not resolved, with another 26% not knowing the results of their complaints.
The survey results generated lively discussions and highlighted procedural and integrity issues and deficiencies within Palau that can be addressed, including: (1) where to report corruption within the various government branches, divisions, and agencies; (2) making improvements in informing reporters and the general public of the status and outcomes of complaints; and, (3) recognizing we all need to work together, respectfully, to address the issues and find solutions. Palauans acknowledged their culture and traditional leaders. It was observed that for the benefit of the community directing their report about corruption to the relevant legal body promotes transparency and accountability.
OSP wishes to thank everyone who took their time to participate in this survey and in the forum, both in-person and via live stream, as we continue the fight in eradicating corruption in the Republic of Palau. A summary report of the responses will be available on the OSP website for public understanding and be used to provide guidance on improving the public reporting processes at all levels of government and within the population of Palau.