Single corruption watchdog closer to reality
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding has indicated that intense work is under way to establish a single anti-corruption agency.
The single anti-corruption agency will see the merger of the Office of the Contractor General, the Integrity Commission, and the Corruption Prevention Commission.
Speaking at the Lay Magistrates' Association of Jamaica's Kingston Chapter annual general meeting on Saturday, Golding said a number of issues would be addressed urgently in tackling inconsistencies within the justice system.
"In going forward, we have the Integrity Commission bill. I actually received the final draft (last Friday) which I will be taking it to Cabinet shortly to have approval for it to be tabled in Parliament. That bill will amalgamate three agencies in Jamaica that deal with corruption-related matters into a single agency," he said.
"This, I think, will be a significant move forward in providing a more structured and cohesive approach in tackling corruption. We have already started the work of identifying what the needs of the new agency will be and how we are going to set it up," he said.
laws must be enforced
The justice minister also pointed out that in order for the establishment to be effective, laws must be enforced.
"The laws are there. It's now really for investigations to be done effectively, and the prosecutions to be brought effectively and the fact that, this agency will have prosecutorial powers will assist that, because the DPP (director of public prosecutions) office has so many other things dealing with, they haven't been able to focus on bringing these prosecutions at the rate that is satisfactory," he told The Gleaner.
On the issue of expunging criminal records for minor offences, Golding said this was being treated with urgency.
"We are amending the Criminal Records Rehabilitation of Offenders legislation. At present, getting an expungement in Jamaica for a relatively minor offence is a very difficult process. There is a juggling of the rehabilitation period involved, so we are going to be shortening that period.
"We will be introducing automatic expungement for those persons who were convicted for small quantities of ganja or smoking of ganja, which is a large cadre of young men who have a criminal record that dampens their prospect of travelling, acquiring visas, among other basic necessities," he said.