KINGSTON – Law enforcement professionals, ministerial policy makers, civil society members, advocacy groups and academia are to converge in Kingston between March 22 and 23 for the inaugural staging of the Regional Law Enforcement Anti-Corruption Conference.
The conference, which will be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, is being hosted by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It will address issues of corruption and its debilitating effects on law enforcement.
The meeting will also serve as a catalyst for the formation of a Regional Law Enforcement Anti-corruption Network; and will provide a forum for practitioners to participate in the drafting of guidelines for regional collaboration on law enforcement and anti-corruption.
Speaking at the launch of the conference on March 14 at the Commissioner’s Office in Kingston, Assistant Commissioner of Police in the Anti-Corruption Branch of the JCF, Justin Felice said that the conference will facilitate the sharing of experiences about the status of law enforcement and anti-corruption initiatives that are currently taking place in the region.
He noted that Jamaica has been achieving some success in respect to its anti-corruption efforts, which can be shared with other countries.
“I think that since 2007 there has been significant improvement in Jamaica in respect of the way that corruption is being tackled and I think some of the other CARICOM countries would be pleased and would be more than willing to look at how we do it,” he said.
Mr. Felice said that modest improvements in Transparency International ratings is one aspect that Jamaica can champion as a success, “to say that hopefully we’ve turned around the way that Jamaica was going in respect of its corruption and the perception that the public has about the levels of corruption within the JCF and also the wider law enforcement agencies in the island.”
Transparency International is a non-governmental organisation that monitors and publicises corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide.
Mr. Felice pointed out that the JCF has also been making strides in ridding the organisation of corrupt individuals through its cleansing programme. One of the methods being used is an increased use of polygraph tests, where, through random administering of polygraph tests, it is ensured that recruits are ethical and of the highest integrity.
“Promotions now within JCF are all subject to ethical interviews by the newly formed Ethics Committee, which was set up in August 2010, and also polygraph (testing). So, all the senior officers who have been recently promoted, have all been subject to a rigorous vetting procedure which is taking place within the organisation,” he said.
The Assistant Commissioner explained that the conference would facilitate law enforcement agencies coming together to try and work together in synergy and establishing a network between the countries in the Caribbean to learn from each other’s best practices in anti-corruption efforts.
The USAID’s Mission Director in Jamaica, Dr. Karen Hilliard said the agency has had a long history with working with the JCF, and cited the deepening co-operation with the organisation’s Anti-Corruption Branch.
“We plan to continue to intensify this collaboration under the umbrella of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI),” she said.
The CBSI, which was launched in Jamaica last year, is a regional partnership between various agencies of the US Government and CARICOM member states to enhance the capability of the member states to increase citizen security and combat crime and corruption across the region.
“What happens in Jamaica and other CARICOM states matter to the United States and vice versa, so we are all in this together and we all want to combat things like corruption, drug trafficking and organised crime,” she said.
Dr. Hilliard added that as part of USAID’s co-operation with Jamaica’s National Integrity Action Forum, “we’re looking to intensify our work in the anti-corruption field, and particularly where law enforcement is concerned.”
The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Towards Regional Co-operation for Anti-Corruption’.
CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH