Local Laws to be Amended to Comply with UN Convention against Corruption


Cabinet has issued instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to amend domestic laws to allow Jamaica to comply with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Jamaica signed the Convention on September 16, 2005 and will ratify the agreement next week.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on (Jan. 30), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, explained that under the Convention, Jamaica is expected to amend local laws for the prevention and investigation of corruption; the criminalization of corruption; international cooperation; and asset recovery.
The Corruption Prevention Act, Larceny Act, and Proceeds of Crime Act are some of the main pieces of legislation that will be reviewed and amended. Senator Lightbourne noted that while the Corruption Prevention Act will be expanded to include provisions for a Special Prosecutor, other issues to be looked at are the inclusion of the judiciary in the signing of integrity forms. “The UN Convention is of the view that we should include the judiciary, but that is for discussion and a decision,” she noted.
In addition, the law is to be amended to include provisions that will allow for action to be taken against private sector entities that are proven to be involved in corruption.
Senator Lightbourne emphasized that such corrupt acts could be between a private sector organization (or person) and a public sector organization (or person), as well as corruption within the private sector itself.
She said that “another area to be looked at and we have already taken steps to deal with that, is our Independent Authority to investigate abuses by agents of the state. Also included in that piece of legislation will be misconduct, (as) part of an abuse could be misconduct, and the misconduct could be corruption by agents of the state,” Minister Lightbourne informed. She added that another important provision that the Convention wanted domestic legislation to include, as an offence, is the bribing of officials in public international organizations.
The Proceeds of Crime Act currently allows for assets obtained by means of corruption to be seized and forfeited. However, when these assets are seized, they are usually shared between countries involved in the case. “We want to look at when assets are recovered, whether the complete asset should be returned to Jamaica, rather than there being a sharing,” the Justice Minister said.
As it relates to the Larceny Act, she said the law would be reviewed to ensure that persons, who commit fraud and similar offences, would not escape prosecution.
Meanwhile, Cabinet has requested that a Green Paper be prepared for a whistleblower legislation. “As you know, it is to give protection to persons, who expose corruption and wrongdoing,” Mrs. Lightbourne explained.
“If there is a whistleblower legislation in place and if in an organization, somebody has done a corrupt act, and the whistleblower blows it to the Special Prosecutor, he can go in and investigate,” she told journalists.
In addition, the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act will be reviewed with a view to including corruption offences. One of the recommendations under the Convention is to look at banking records, to allow them to be shared, notwithstanding bank secrecy laws, when there is corruption internationally.

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