Senate committee clash over Integrity Commission Act
Opinions clashed yesterday in Gordon House when members of the Joint Select Committee deliberating on the Integrity Commission Act held to strong positions over whether the parliamentary group should expand the definition of corruption.
Committee members argued that Jamaica should follow the Sierra Leone definition of corruption.
Under Sierra Leonean law, corruption includes corrupt acquisition of wealth; using influence for the promotion, execution or procurement of public-body contracts and subcontracts; bid rigging; and corrupting a public officer.
The law also prohibits bribery of or by a public officer to influence the decision of a public body; soliciting, accepting or obtaining an advantage for or on behalf of a public officer; and transfer of the proceeds of corruption.
Opposition senator Kamina Johnson Smith urged members of the committee to consider making the definition of corruption more effective by incorporating the Sierra Leone classification of corruption into the Integrity Commission Act.
Johnson Smith argued that this would make Jamaica more effective in getting tough on acts of corruption.
However, committee chairman, Senator Mark Golding, resisted the proposal saying that the Integrity Commission Bill did not seek to change the definition of corruption in the Corruption Prevention Act.
Senator Golding said the Attorney General’s chambers have expressed the view that the definition of corruption in local legislation substantially complies with the United Nations Convention on Corruption.
He was supported by committee member and Minister of National Security Peter Bunting who agreed that the offences dealing with corruption are adequate.
Contributing to the discussion, Delroy Chuck and Fitz Jackson, both argued that it was not the remit of the committee to deliberate on and change the definition of corruption.
However, Chuck felt that the committee should recommend that the definition of corruption should be examined in the Corruption Prevention Act and other acts that define corruption.
However, Senator Golding insisted that none of the commissions of Parliament has submitted reports to the legislature complaining about the inadequacy of the definitions of corruption.