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PM admits more muscle needed in corruption fight ... but offers no guess as to whether Parliament would lift Integrity Commission gag

Published:Monday | March 2, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The strategy for dealing with corruption cannot rely only on naming and shaming, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness. He argues that a more intensive effort has to be put into the investigative and prosecutorial processes to make greater gains in the fight against corruption.

Holness was responding to the question of whether his administration – and, by extension, lawmakers – would remove the so-called muzzle clause in the current Integrity Commission Act to allow the anti-corruption watchdog to carry out its functions in a more transparent manner.

Section 56(3) of the Integrity Commission Act states that any investigation by the commission “shall be kept confidential and no report or public statement shall be made on it”, until after its completion and a report has been tabled in Parliament.

While not giving his opinion on whether the gag would be removed through an amendment of the law, Holness noted that parliamentarians would soon be reviewing the Integrity Commission Act.

“I will not pre-empt what the parliamentarians will conclude,” Holness told The Gleaner in an interview last week.

There have been calls from civil society and the parliamentary Opposition for a review of the legislation governing the anti-corruption body.

Head of the National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe, had suggested that the review should receive and consider submissions from the public as well as recommendations from the commission itself. He told The Gleaner in an earlier interview that this would allow the integrity body to be more transparent and accountable in its operations.