Anti-corruption measures coming
Bridgetown, Barbados, September 30, 2019 (Barbados TODAY): Protections for whistleblowers and an update of a 90-year-old law are among a range of measures the Government plans to introduce in a “few weeks” to go after crooked public officials amid rising public perceptions of lingering corruption in Barbados, the Attorney General has told Barbados TODAY.
Dale Marshall was responding to the recently released Global Corruption Barometer for Latin America and the Caribbean, which stated that 37 per cent of Barbadians believed corruption had increased in the last 12 months.
But the survey, which had a sample size of just over 800 people, also showed that a majority – 55 per cent – believed the Mottley administration is doing a good job in fighting corruption. About one in four respondents – 29 per cent – believed Government was doing a bad job and 16 per cent said they did not know.
In a brief interview, Marshall gave an assurance that the foundation was being laid to help address any outstanding issues of corruption.
The Government’s chief legal adviser declared he would be announcing some major initiatives “in the very near future”.
He said: “Within the next few weeks we are going to be introducing into Parliament, this is not just words, a new Whistleblower statute, which is going to be more comprehensive than what we had in the Integrity in Public Life Bill.
“We are going to be introducing a new Prevention of Corruption statute, which will modernize our landscape in terms of our laws, and increase significantly the kinds of penalties that would be imposed.”
Pointing out that the existing law, dating back to 1929, classifies a corrupt act as a misdemeanor, Marshall said this alone “speaks volumes about the attitude that people had toward the act of corruption”.
But, with stiffer penalties and new definitions to be introduced, the Attorney General said he expected the new laws to act as a major deterrent to corrupt practices.
He also noted that in addition to introducing a new legal framework, there were “some other things” that Government would be doing “which will see Barbados improving by leaps and bounds in terms of how we deal with corruption”.
He described as a shame Barbados being one of only two countries yet to accede to the UN Convention against corruption.
He promised the Government would ratify the treaty “before the end of the year” – 15 years after signing it, December 2003.
In its recommendation, the Global Corruption Barometer called for advocacy for stronger political integrity, especially around elections, improved transparency of political finances; strengthening of judicial institutions; reduction in enablers of bribery, especially in public services; empowerment of individuals, civil society and media, to report corruption.
The report also called for officials to recognise and address specific gendered forms of corruption and implement the
Lima Commitment, an anti-corruption declaration of the leaders of the Americas made last April at their summit in the Peruvian capital.