JIS News

The government took action during its first 100 days in office to advance several pieces of legislation to tackle corruption.
In November, Cabinet gave the go-head for legislation to be drafted for the creation of the Office of Special Prosecutor, to investigate high-level acts of corruption in the public and private sectors.
Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, explained that the Office of Special Prosecutor will subsume the current Corruption Prevention Commission “That Commission mainly deals with public officers.and has really concentrated on public bodies. This new body will be a wider body; it will look at corruption, not only public but private as well, right across the board”.
She noted that while the Special Prosecutor will have the power to investigate and prosecute persons, who are found guilty of engaging in corrupt practices, he/she will, however, not be involved in the seizure of assets.
The Special Prosecutor, who will be appointed by the Governor-Governor, will be an attorney-at-law by profession, with experience as a high court judge or a Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The appointee will also be required to submit quarterly reports to Parliament.
Also in November, Cabinet issued instructions for a Bill to be drafted for an independent Commission to be established to investigate the excessive use of force and instances of abuse by members of the security forces.
Senator Lightbourne said that the establishment of this Commission is part of the Government’s response to the national outcry over allegations of police excesses and is expected to increase public confidence into the whole process of police investigations.The proposed body will have powers similar to the Police Public Complaints Authority, and will be a Commission of Parliament.
Senator Lightbourne said the body will also have offices islandwide in five police areas and will operate on a 24-hour basis. Members of the public will be able to make complaints to the body using a 24-hour toll free number.
The Attorney-General further explained that once the investigations are completed, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will either prosecute the guilty party, carry out internal disciplinary procures, while mediation will be suggested for minor infractions.
The Commission will be chaired by an Attorney-at-Law and its members will be appointed by the Governor-General. The body will be required to give frequent reports to the public on on-going investigations, as well as submit a quarterly report to Parliament. In the meantime, a Bill to amend the Pensions (Prime Minister’s) Act to allow current and future Prime Ministers an entitlement to pension at an annual rate that is equivalent to two-thirds of the annual salary of the Prime Minister, instead of the current 100 per cent, was also tabled in the House of Representatives.
Cabinet issued drafting instructions to amend the Pensions Superannuation and Retirement Funds Act of 2004, which is the second phase of the pensions reform project. The drafting instructions concern the mandatory vesting period in pension schemes; the portability of pension rights; the indexation of funds; and the distribution of surplus.
A submission for the whistle-blower legislation to be drafted is now before Cabinet. The legislation is intended to protect persons, who provide information on wrongdoing on the part of public officials.
A submission has also been made to Cabinet for legislation to be drafted to amend the Constitution to include fixed election dates, as well as to impose a two-year term limit on any person holding the office of the Prime Minister.
Additionally, the government made a submission to Cabinet for a special coroner to be appointed, who will among other things, speedily conduct inquests in incidences where citizens die in circumstances involving agents of the states.

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