Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says work has commenced on the establishment of a single anti-corruption agency, which will primarily comprise civilians stakeholders, such as attorneys and investigators.
Speaking at the launch of the multi-agency Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA), at the Police Officers’ Club, Hope Road, St. Andrew, on June 4, Senator Golding informed that an advisory committee, which was established to explore the proposal and produce a report on how best to move forward, is scheduled to complete its work by the end of June.
The Minister said on receipt of the report, he will make a submission to Cabinet seeking drafting instructions, while expressing the hope that the necessary legislation will be in place during the current legislative year.
Giving a rationale for the proposal, Senator Golding noted that there were several laws and institutions which addressed the various issues and aspects of corruption. He said that while MOCA’s establishment would focus on the law enforcement aspect, “we are also looking at the civilian side of it."
“We want to see that (stakeholders and institutions) are re-designed into a single agency that has the necessary powers to be effective. That agency, when it comes into existence, will have to work in tandem with MOCA, and I think, together, they will be a very effective team to really make a difference in this area,” the Minister contended.
The MOCA is a multi-agency task force which will focus on identifying, investigating and prosecuting major players engaging in organised crimes, their facilitators, and corrupt public officials and, in the process, confiscating ill-gotten proceeds, thereby taking the profits out of crime.
Its core staff will comprise members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), with support from other Ministries and state agencies, including: the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Finance and Planning, through the Financial Investigation Division (FID), Customs Department, and Taxpayer Audit and Assessment Department (TAAD), as well as civilian personnel.
Senator Golding also acknowledged the work and inputs of organizations, such as Transparency International, National Integrity Action Limited, as well as external bi-lateral partners who have been supporting the government’s efforts at tackling corruption.
“Jamaica really can’t do this alone. It is so endemic, and so ingrained at all levels of our society, that it’s very difficult for us to tackle this without the support of persons who have the objectivity of being outside of our problems, and who have the resources to help us along the way,” the Minister said.
“So, we are very grateful for the efforts you (partners) have been making and continue to make to assist us in this regard. And, we intend to use those resources and help, as best we can, to achieve a much brighter future for our country,” Senator Golding added.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter