Gov't senators reject civil society presence on MOCA oversight committee
Government senators yester-day shot down a proposal for civil society or rights groups to sit on the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency's (MOCA) oversight committee, which is to hold the director general and other officers of the agency accountable to the public in the performance of their functions under the act.
The oversight committee will comprise a retired judge of the Supreme Court; a retired officer of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, not below the rank of assistant commissioner of police; and a retired officer of the Jamaica Defence Force, not below the rank of colonel.
Further, two other members with expertise in the financial sector, anti-corruption, and public procurement are to be appointed by the minister responsible for national security.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP
During deliberations of the MOCA bill at the committee stage in the Senate, Opposition Senator Wensworth Skeffery suggested that a member of civil society or human rights group be appointed to the oversight committee to ensure that the rights of Jamaicans are protected.
However, Government Senator Ransford Braham objected, noting that persons from interest groups, at times, tended to focus on a particular agenda, which could be inimical to the committee. A vote was taken, and Skeffery's proposal was rejected by members on the Government side who had the majority.
According to Braham, the persons who should be appointed to the committee must have a broad wealth of knowledge and information to carry out a complete job.
Government senator Don Wehby agreed with Braham, asserting that there was no need to single out persons from civil society as the law indicated that eligible candidates for appointment should be persons of integrity and diligence. This, he said, should cover Skeffery's concern.
Commenting on the issue, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown argued that there was a lack of consistency in the policy as persons with expertise in the financial sector, anti-corruption, and public procurement were targeted for appointment on the oversight committee. "If we are saying that human rights and other sectors like those must be excluded, on what basis do we include anti-corruption and the financial sector?" he stressed.