Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Loud it up! CaPRI says corruption laws ample, but people remaining silent

Published:Tuesday | May 30, 2017 | 12:44 PM

Corey Robinson, Staff Reporter

Local think tank, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) has concluded that Jamaica has ample legislation to fight corruption, but says they are of little use without greater involvement from the public.

At a public forum dubbed ‘Loud it Up; Strengthening Integrity Through Innovation’ CaPRI last evening released the findings of its latest study on corruption in Jamaica.

According to Desiree Phillips, research officer at CaPRI, the Jamaican study on corruption reinforced that local anti-corruption laws are not being enforced, and argued that there needs to be a mandatory channel through which corruption information is extracted from the public.

"We recognise the need for a multi-faceted approach to addressing the issue, which means more than legislation, more than institutions in Jamaica,” said Phillips, noting that the study, ‘Anti-Corruption Innovations: Strengthening Jamaica’s Integrity’ examined several initiatives used by other countries to augment their anti-corruption frameworks.

CaPRI has recommended that Jamaica implement what it calls a citizen feedback monitoring programme – an anti-corruption strategy which has been successful in Pakistan.

“The feedback gathering  programme was found to be most appropriate for Jamaica’s context ... It embeds a feedback system in public sector agencies,” she explained.

"When citizens go to access public services their information is taken and subsequent to this they are contacted after via recorded call or text message enquiring about their services. They are asked whether they were brushed with attempts of bribery, if they received poor service, misconduct or bribery,” continued Phillips.

The data is then categorised and disseminated to the relevant agencies responsible for action.

Problems areas and issues most often highlighted in the public sector would take prominence, she said.

"So it would be used to map where corruption most lies, and reform can actually take place for corruption to be minimised across the public sector."

Among some of the more recent legislation against corruption are: the Integrity Commission Act (2016), which establishes a single anti-corruption agency; the Protected Disclosures Act (2011), which protects employees who report criminal acts; and the Access to Information Act (2002), which mandates the publication and audit of revenues of public bodies.

Jeanette Calder, a civil society advocate, who also attended the forum argued that members of the public are not using available corruption legislation.

Colonel Desmond Edwards, director general of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) warned against seeking to augment anti-corruption laws without enforcing those already enacted.