Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, has suggested that whoever is appointed to the new Office of Special Prosecutor, should approach the job with the same "ferocity and seriousness" as current Contractor General, Greg Christie.
"I say that as someone who has not always agreed with the Contractor General's position…(but) I respect the seriousness with which he tackles his job," Mr. Golding told the House of Representatives Wednesday (February 2).
"One thing you cannot say about Mr. Greg Christie, is that he is a man who is sleeping on the job… I want to see somebody like that emerge as Special Prosecutor, because I think the business of corruption requires that kind of aggressive, no-nonsense, fearless approach," the Prime Minister said.
He was piloting the Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act, which seeks to repeal the Corruption (Prevention) Act and the Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act. The Senate passed the Bill on January 14. It had been before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament since 2008.
The Special Prosecutor will be mandated to receive statutory declarations from parliamentarians, public officials and other persons, of their assets, liabilities and income; promote the reporting of corrupt conduct; and conduct necessary investigations and prosecutions.
The Prime Minister noted that the concern that the Special Prosecutor would be in conflict with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been effectively addressed in the Bill.
"The DPP is not the only person who can prosecute…the Constitution says that any other person or authority may institute criminal proceedings, but the DPP has the power to discontinue those proceedings, or take over those proceedings," Mr. Golding explained.
He said the Government acknowledged that it would have to recognize the supremacy of the DPP in prosecutorial matters and, therefore, the special prosecutor is made subject to the directions of the DPP in the Act, so that the DPP can instruct. However, he noted that the Special Prosecutor still has authority to pursue prosecution, subject to, or interrupted only by the direction of the DPP.
Mr. Golding also highlighted the Contractor General's suggestion that one national anti-corruption commission be established, to include the provisions of the Contractor General's Act. He said this proposal made sense, in terms of efficiency, effectively utilizing the limited resources of investigators and administrative staff, and having one agency with access to information from a wide cross-section of sources would assist in monitoring and pursuing cases.
However, he cautioned that the country has to be careful not to design institutions to fit personalities, "because if you do that, what you would now end up with is one agency, where if you have the right personality, you're ok, (but) if you don't have the right personality, it means that these agencies that you have brought together, are going to be subject to failure".
He also noted that, although the possibility of a national commission or agency could be examined, he would not recommend delaying passage of the Act.
"It is important for us to strike a blow now, against the corruption that is still taking place, notwithstanding the provisions that we have had so far," Mr. Golding asserted.
The Act provides for the Special Prosecutor's Office to be notified by the security forces and other public officials, when they uncover evidence of corrupt conduct. The Office will also be responsible for advising and assisting the security forces, public authorities and other persons on methods to combat or eliminate corrupt conduct; making recommendations to Parliament on legislative measures to strengthen the country's anti-corruption regime; and informing and advising public authorities, public officials, and other persons on strategies to combat corrupt conduct, and enlisting public support to address such conduct.
CONTACT: ALPHEA SAUNDERS