Senate passes bill to hire SP on case-by-case basis

Island Times, July 15, 2011 edition


The Senate yesterday passed on third and final reading the bill that intends to abolish the Office of the Special Prosecutor and just hire SP on case-by-case basis.

Senator Hokkons Baules, who introduced the proposal in 2009, said that the bill was approved with a floor amendment by Sen. Joel Toribiong that gives authority to appoint SP to the Attorney General instead of the president of the Republic.

To maintain the SP office or abolish it and hire one on certain cases has become a subject of debates in the Senate.

Earlier reports showed the Senate committee on judiciary and governmental affairs, which reviewed the proposal, pushed for the passage of the bill as they find hiring of temporary SP a more efficient and less costly way of dealing with some of the most sensitive criminal cases involving government officials in Palau.

But prior to the Senate’s action on the SP bill, the Council of Chiefs requested the Senate to withdraw it and reconsider President Toribiong’s appointee for special prosecutor.

The chiefs, in a letter to Senate President Mlib Tmetuchl, emphasized on the importance of having a special prosecutor. They said that since the SP Office was established until the office became vacant, it has served the country in preventing criminal activities and other violation of laws from occurring by just being around.

“It has not only prevented crimes and other violations of laws from occurring but has also saved the Republic the potential loss of public funds through malfeasances,” the chiefs added.

The chiefs believe that hiring SP on case-by-case basis will not help advance the cause to stop the criminal activities and other violations of laws by high public officials from occurring where the Office of the Attorney General may not be able to handle due to actual or potential conflict of interest or for ethical reasons.

After passing the Senate, the bill will be transmitted to the House for its review and consideration.

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