Letter of the Day | Stamping out corruption should be top priority
THE EDITOR, Madam:
Since gaining Independence, Jamaica has been plagued by corruption in politics. This issue has affected the country’s growth and development, and tarnished its reputation in the international arena. To tackle this problem head-on, the Government of Jamaica needs a prosecutorial body that has the ability to prosecute wrongdoers in politics, and the best option is the Integrity Commission.
The establishment of the Integrity Commission was necessary because previous anti-corruption bodies were not able to carry out their mandate fully. The contractor general’s office, for example, faced challenges in obtaining evidence to support charges against corrupt officials, which resulted in the lack of convictions in many corruption cases, making it difficult for the public to trust government officials. Similarly, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been criticised for being too slow in prosecuting corruption cases, which has undermined its effectiveness in curbing corruption.
The Integrity Commission represents the best option for Jamaica to proactively investigate and prosecute individuals engaged in corruption and other illegal activities. Established by Parliament in 2017, the commission has a broad mandate, including the ability to bring charges against those deemed involved in corrupt activities, and the power to investigate allegations of corruption, misconduct or malfeasance within the public sector, and other entities falling under its jurisdiction, such as politically exposed persons.
However, despite the existence of the Integrity Commission, prosecution has been infrequent across all existing bodies, and the proposal put forth by Mr Warmington to strip the Integrity Commission’s prosecutorial power would hurt Jamaica’s ability to hold corrupt politicians accountable.
To move beyond the scourge of corruption in politics, Jamaica needs all prosecutorial bodies to coordinate their efforts and intensify their investigations into corrupt officials. Also, they must be properly resourced to facilitate effective prosecution and reduce the incidences of corruption.
Through legislative actions and proper oversight, the Government must support all efforts aiming to bolster transparency in public office. Additionally, Parliament must prioritise its commitment to stamping out corruption, recognising that it is no less important than paying off the country’s debts.
Jamaica must take critical steps to end corruption. All prosecutorial bodies must work collaboratively to hold corrupt officials accountable, while the Government strives to promote accountability and transparency in governance. For Jamaica to achieve its full potential, getting rid of corruption is vital, and Parliament must prioritise anti-corruption measures and work towards making them effective.