Tue | May 26, 2020

Jamaicans should be updated on corruption probes, Phillips reiterates

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 11:01 AM
Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips - File photo

Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips is standing by his call for Jamaicans to be updated on corruption investigations by state agencies.

Phillips argues that this is important as a matter of public confidence that persons are held accountable.

The Holness administration labelled as “troubling” Phillips’ call for the Government to speak on the ongoing corruption investigations relating to the education ministry.

READ: Hands off

In March, Education Minister Ruel Reid resigned amid a slew of corruption allegations at a number of agencies that fall under the ministry, including Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

Since then, the police have confirmed that he is the subject of a criminal investigation.

CMU President Professor Fritz Pinnock had taken a leave of absence in July to allow the authorities to complete their probe.

Last week, he returned to work at the east Kingston-based institution.

READ: MOE, CMU mum on Pinnock’s return
READ: DPP says Ruel Reid’s case won’t be rushed

Yesterday, at a press conference, Phillips charged that, among other things, the return of Pinnock to his post amid the corruption investigations, with no comment from the Holness administration, “suggests that the Government is normalising corruption”.

In a response last night, acting Prime Minister Dr Horace Chang said: “Dr Phillips’ call shows a lack of understanding of the current anti-corruption framework and the modern tenets of good governance, which requires politicians to not interfere with independent investigations.”

The opposition leader fired back today contending that Chang’s stance is “laced with mischief and is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of Government in democratic societies.”

In a statement, Phillips argued that his statement yesterday was not suggesting interference in the ongoing investigations but to highlight that the government remains accountable and is responsible for general policy direction and control.

“… it is also the case that proper policy in all democratic societies require regular reporting and accountability to the general population”

“Had Dr Chang taken the time to examine the question honestly, he would know that it is a regular feature of police departments such as the Metropolitan Police Service (Scotland Yard) in London or the New York City Police Department  or the Royal Canadian Metro Police to provide updates. Indeed, in any one of these democratic jurisdictions, the police service authorities give regular updates as to the status of their investigations.”

Phillips argued that Jamaicans have a right to know if the police force or other investigative agencies have abandoned the probes and whether the public should maintain its expectations for arrests.

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