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The Protected Disclosure Bill, which seeks to encourage and facilitate specified disclosures of improper conduct in the public interest, has been sent to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament for consideration.
The move was at the request of Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator A.J. Nicholson, who, in a letter on Thursday (June 17), appealed to the Government to consider referring the bill to a committee of Parliament so as to facilitate public participation and input.
Minister of Justice and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, had tabled the bill in the Upper House on June 11 with the intention of opening the debate on Friday, June 18.
Senator Lightbourne, speaking at Friday’s sitting of the Senate, said it is the Government’s intention to have the bill passed into law by July.
“The Government and people of Jamaica are impatient in their desire to ensure that urgent action is taken to root out corruption in our society. I will be seeking that the committee will meet promptly, and in a short period of time, and complete its deliberations by the 15th of July, so we can deal with this piece of legislation in the Senate in the last weeks of July. It means that time is of the essence, and I trust the committee members will move expeditiously to conduct and complete this very important task,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Senator Nicholson, in his comments, urged the committee members not to “allow those strictures to bind us to any position, which does not allow for a full stretch of the deliberations.”
The Joint Select Committee will comprise Senators Lightbourne, Dwight Nelson, Arthur Williams, Warren Newby, Camina Johnson Smith, K.D. Knight, Navel Clarke and A.J. Nicholson. The House of Representatives is to name its committee members.
The Protected Disclosure Bill, commonly referred to as the whistleblower legislation, is part of an overall initiative by the Government to eradicate corruption, promote accountability and transparency, and reduce opportunities for improper conduct in the workplace.