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Division remains concerning powers of Integrity Commission

There remains sharp division over whether some of  the major powers of  the Integrity Commission in relation to publicizing its investigations, should be scrapped.

It's being argued that the provisions muzzle the commission, while on the other hand it's believed that too much publicity at an early stage may damage reputations with little chance of  recovery if  allegations are untrue.

The renewed discussion is in the context of  the probe being conducted into the activities of  the Education Ministry which culminated with the recent resignation of  Ruel Reid.

The Integrity Commission was formed last year.

This followed the merger of  the Integrity Commission, the Commission for the Prevention of  Corruption, and the Office of  the Contractor General.

One of  the controversial aspects of  the Act is that until the tabling of  a report in Parliament, all matters under investigation shall be kept confidential and no public statements can be made by the commission about the initiation or conduct of  the probe.

Civil Society Advocate Carol Narcisse, is adamant that these provisions are a deterrent to transparency, and this was a deliberate strategy when they were being created.

“The provision is unacceptable and was not accidental. Both PNP and the JLP chaffed at the activities at the Contractor general’s office in former years. Both parties I believe made provisions that would neuter such activities and render the commission to be the kind of commission that lumbers along but is not zealous in defence of the public’s interest,” said Narcisse who was a guest on Beyond the Headlines.

Meanwhile, President of  the Jamaica Civil Service Association O'Neil Grant, is advocating for the retention.

He's also offering an alternative for how the matters should be prosecuted.

 “I would retain it because I see the dangers of us not having it. We have to be very careful in terms of the early stage of investigations …I think that if the investigations go a particular way  - and this is a point that we have raised to the special parliamentary committee , is that proceedings should have been dealt with by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) ….” Grant stated. 

 



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