Thu | Sep 20, 2018

We cannot break the law - Integrity Commission

Published:Thursday | August 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Justice Karl Harrison

Below is a statement from Justice Karl Harrison (Ret'd), chairman of the Integrity Commission.

The commissioners of the Integrity Commission have taken note of comments from a number of parties expressing the view that that the commission ought to provide "updates" on the status of ongoing investigations.

Recently, it was said that the public "should be kept informed as to what progress is being made and what grounds remain to be covered ..." in respect of certain specific investigations. Another source requested interim reports on the progress of another important matter that was commenced by the former contractor general.

The commissioners understand and expect that there is significant interest on the part of civil society groups, in particular, and the public in general that matters under the commission's purview are being pursued with vigour and with dispatch. We must remind, however, that the legislation governing disclosure of information in relation to matters under investigation is clear and unequivocal. Section 53 (3) of the Integrity Act states, "Until the tabling in Parliament of a report under Section 36, all matters under investigation by the director of investigation or any other person involved in such investigation shall be kept confidential, and no report or public statement shall be made by the commission or any other person in relation to the initiation or conduct of an investigation ... ."

The commissioners and staff of the commission cannot break the law for any reason. Hence, we will not be able to provide "updates" or interim reports to the public before they are tabled in Parliament.

Since the operations of the commission commenced on February 22, 2018, we have been fully engaged in monitoring the progress of pending matters, as well as the pursuit of new issues that have come to the attention of the commission, overseeing the administrative structuring of the new entity, combining of the three legacy agencies and generally establishing a policy framework for the operations of the commission. Nevertheless, we can report that a number of investigations are nearing completion.

We ask that the public be mindful of the legislative framework within which the commission operates and temper expectations to take account of the provisions mentioned above.