A rapid corruption assessment of Jamaica commissioned in 2008 confirmed high levels of corruption and, at the same time, indicated potential for reversing the tide of corruption. The study identified a risk and an opportunity. The risk was that a number of heads of key anti-corruption agencies would resign their positions as a result of frustration derived in part from mutual isolation and inadequate support. The opportunity was presented by the commitment of each to remain were they able to operate in a more collaborative manner. The NIAF was conceived to give expression to this opportunity.
The NIAF was launched in January 2009 as a two year project in the first instance. The stated objective was; to provide a mutually re-enforcing network of public sector ‘anti-corruption champions’; to associate these heads with leaders of the private sector and civil society and to hold a series of forums on anti-corruption issues. These forums achieved their purpose of clarifying impediments to a more effective combat of corruption in Jamaica and, on this basis, to develop an agenda of urgently needed legislation and administrative measures. A number of forums were outreach events bringing anti-corruption champions into dialogue with opinion shapers in the media, leaders of the religious community, investigators in the various anti-corruption agencies, international experts from the World Bank Institute and Transparency International. The advocacy and communication activity developed therefrom influenced the governance reform agenda of the government and sustained attention to corruption issues by the media.
The NIAF also commissioned and produced a number of training manuals such as:
The lobbying and advocacy from the NIAF contributed to filling important legislative loopholes such as bringing the Plea Bargaining Act fully into force and the passage of the Whistle Blower Protection Law.
Given the highly competitive political environment it was essential to the NIAF to establish at the very outset and to maintain throughout its non- partisan character. Hence the Prime Minister was the Keynote Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition represented at the launch of the NIAF and at each important juncture in its development. Funding support from the USAID and latterly from DFID/UK was essential to the emergence and survival of the NIAF.
Together the NIAL and the NIAF shall challenge political corruption and its continuing impunity in Jamaica’s governance arrangements. The NIAL was officially launched on December 9, 2011.