Some Parliamentarians are divided, on calls by the Integrity Commission, to remove the so-called ‘secrecy clause’ from the Integrity Commission Act.
In a major move yesterday, the Integrity Commission said it will be lobbying lawmakers to remove the clause that forbids it from commenting publicly on ongoing investigations.
The Commissioners say they are being shackled by the provision.
According to Justice Minister and Member of Parliament for North Eastern St Andrew, Delroy Chuck, that’s not necessary.
Section 53 of the Integrity Commission Act 2017, states that all matters under probe by the Director of Investigations, shall be kept confidential, until a report on that matter is tabled in Parliament.
Minister Chuck says the act was extensively deliberated and an agreement made by the Joint Select Committee members at the time, that far too many investigations exonerated persons initially accused of corruption.
He says the clause was not inserted to gag the media, nor was it aimed at protecting politicians who could potentially breach corruption legislation.
Opposition Senator and Spokesman on Justice, Donna Scott Motley, disagrees. She says an amendment to the act, is urgently needed.
People’s National Party, PNP, Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, Peter Bunting, says the clause, while not intended, has turned out to be what he calls a ‘gag order’.
West Portland MP, Daryl Vaz, says the call by the Integrity Commissioners, is justified.
Mr Vaz, is also Minister Without Portfolio in the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry.
He was at the centre of a controversial report by former Contractor General Dirk Harrison, who accused Minister Vaz of overstepping in the negotiations of the sale of the St Ann-based Rooms on the beach property.
Minister Vaz says he would not object to an amendment of the law.
Minister Chuck says it would not be appropriate to state that the Integrity Commission is probing contractual matters it was routinely asked to supervise.
He also says often the media fail to publicize positive results from some investigations.