The Integrity Commission is again calling on parliament to remove the so-called gag clause in its legislation that prevents it from openly discussing investigations.
That’s according to remarks made in its Annual Report tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The Commission believes that despite numerous calls for this to be reviewed some parliamentarians remain unwilling to show a commitment to transparency in standing by the status quo.
Chevon Campbell tell us more.
That’s the reaction of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Retired Court of Appeals President, Seymour Panton to the continued maintenance of the gag clause.
In his remarks, Justice Panton says he is very concerned that Parliament has so far not addressed the Commission’s repeated requests for amendments.
He says the Commission is firmly of the view that this is a serious impediment to good governance.
Further, as part of the recommendations in its Annual Report, the Integrity Commission says the public being left in the dark is very contradictory and defeats the whole purpose of the law.
However, Parliament has not, to date, given a favourable response to the proposal for amendment.
The clause was designed by lawmakers to avoid reputational damage to individuals by the mere mention of an investigation.
But the Commission is concerned that some Parliamentarians may be supportive of the status quo which, if preserved, will obscure transparency.
The report says it is the respectful view of the Commission that any such stance would be contrary to good governance.
The Statutory body says it is very disappointed that there is at least one senior Parliamentarian who has publicly indicated an intention and willingness to rely on a recent United Kingdom Supreme Court decision which he is erroneously claiming is supportive of the view that the public should be kept in the dark.
In February Bloomberg News lost a UK Supreme Court ruling on whether a person being investigated for a crime can have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
However, the Integrity Commission is firmly of the view that case provides no comfort or support for the secrecy that Jamaica’s Parliamentarians are advocating.
It says the judgment was to the effect that there had been a misuse of private information.
The Commission says It is of the view that it should be able to announce whether it will be investigating a matter where there is a complaint or allegation of wrongdoing in a public office.
The body says public officials who have nothing to hide should not fear the revelation that an investigation is
being conducted as a result of an allegation or complaint of wrongdoing in a public office.
The Integrity Commission urges Parliamentarians to do the right thing and amend the Integrity Commission Act as suggested.