Political Code of Conduct needs teeth, says ombudsman
Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown said that the time has come for the Political Code of Conduct, endorsed by the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, to be given teeth through effective legislation.
"It is time for us to say 'When I, as a political leader, put myself up for office, the Jamaican public can be confident that I am willing to face the consequences of any breach that is not merely a talk; that is not a slap on the wrist but it is something that means something to me'," Parchment Brown told The Gleaner yesterday.
The woman responsible for policing the code to ensure that political parties obey the rules during elections, argued that the penalties for breaches of the code in the Parish Courts are very modest.
She contended that the use of public funds for political purposes, as well as acts of tribalism that tends to reinforce the garrison culture in Jamaica, is a significant area in which a candidate, an officer and a political party should have a high level of accountability.
Parchment Brown was commenting on a call yesterday by Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips for the Government to provide a legislative framework for the Political Code of Conduct.
Phillips said this would establish and consolidate penalties for persons who breached the code and are in charge of organisations that violate the rules.
"That would assist in ensuring that the conduct of elections, the behaviour of political parties, are more frequently in keeping with the standards that we profess to set for ourselves," Phillips asserted.