The effect of corruption is far reaching and has many dimensions related to political, economic, social and environmental effects. In political sphere, corruption impedes democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, public institutions and offices may lose their legitimacy when they misuse their power for private interest. Corruption may also result in negative consequences such as encoring cynicism and reducing interest of political participation, political instability, reducing political competition, reducing the transparency of political decision making, distorting political development and sustaining political activity based on patronage, clientelism and money. The overall effect of corruption is always negative and where there is a seeming or realistic viewpoint that those involved in corruption the result on democracy and support for democracy.
It is against this background that NIA continues to advocate for the passage of strict laws to deter and where necessary punish the corrupt and of course the effective and sustained enforcement of these laws. The overall goal here was to close loopholes in Jamaica’s legislative and anti-corruption institutional frame work. This is a viewpoint supported by several Jamaicans living here in Jamaica and those living abroad who have identified corruption as a major hindrance to the development of Jamaica.
NIA’s Legislative Agenda
NIA advocates for the passage and enforcement of these and other laws:
Single Anti- Corruption Agency – (Integrity Commission)
NIA has vigorously advocated for the passage of The Integrity Commission Bill which aims to “Promote and enhance standards of ethical conduct for parliamentarians, public officials and other persons by consolidating laws relating to the prevention of corruption and the award, monitoring and investigating of government contracts and prescribed licenses and to provide for the Establishment of a single body to be known as the Integrity Commission to promote and strengthen the measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption”- [Preamble – Integrity Commission Act 2016].Towards this end, The Agency will bring together the Corruption Prevention Commission, the Parliamentary Integrity of Members Commission and the Office of the Contractor General. (See Integrity Commission Briefs). In support of the passage of this law NIA appeared before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament to statement its support for and suggest amendments to the existing Bill. (See NIA’s Cabinet Submission). On Tuesday February 1, 2017 the Bill was passed by the Lower House of Parliament (House of Representatives). It will now move on to be debated in the Upper House of Parliament (the Senate). NIA will continue its programme of advocacy for its passage into law and its effective utilization once passed.
Revision of the Political Code of Conduct
This is to establish/consolidate penalties for persons who breach the Political Code of Conduct. Such breaches include intimidation, vote buying/selling, political victimization/discrimination in distribution of jobs and awarding of contracts.
In 2012 responding to a Member’s Motion calling for the Office of Political Ombudsman to be declared redundant A Parliamentary Committee was established to examine the relevance of the Office of the Political Ombudsman. NIA dutifully appeared before this committee and strongly advocated for the office to remain and in fact be strengthened. Arising from the meetings of this committee a recommendation was made for the Office of Ombudsman to remain. NIA is pleased with this result as we remain convinced that this office has achieved much and still has a vital role to play in the Jamaican political landscape. See NIA’s submission to Parliament. See also http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120930/lead/lead91.html
Political Party Financing and Political Party Registration
A report prepared by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica on this matter was approved by the Cabinet. If passed, this law would regulate political parties’ financial reporting, mandating disclosure of their expenditure and contributions they receive. This bill was passed into law in 2014. NIA’s advocacy continues for its effective enforcement.
Award of Government Contracts
Review and reform of government contract award procedures is necessary for increased transparency and identification of individuals associated with criminal enterprises.
Campaign Finance Reform (CFR)
The June 2011 Report of the ECJ provided for limits on what parties and candidates can spend in an election; limits on the amount that can be contributed to parties and candidates; naming ‘impermissible donors’ to campaigns, including persons with government contracts unless their identity is publicly disclosed and regular reports to the Electoral Commission of identities of donors to parties. (see NIA’s CFR Factsheet)
As a relatively newly established organization an initial objective of NIA had to be to make the Jamaican people aware of our existence, purpose and goals. Thereafter to raise the awareness of the cost of corruption and the need for integrity in the public sphere, in the private sector, in civil society and in interpersonal relations. This is laying a foundation for citizen engagement in the combat of corruption. Available evidence suggest that this goal was significantly advanced through the following mechanisms: three (3) documentaries shown on free to air national television, on our website and YouTube entitled:
- The Cost of Corruption: Jamaica’s Barrier to Prosperity
- Building Integrity, A Work in Progress
- The Voice of One, Two…Many
All three documentaries have been viewed several times on (our website, on our youtube channel and on free to air local television); through anti-corruption related television commercials and radio advertisements; through town hall meetings and public forums in the main capital towns; through presentations to a wide range of civic organizations, youth bodies, professional groups and through significant media coverage of NIA events, news releases and commentary on everyday developments. Arising from this, by early 2013 one-third of the Jamaican population was aware of NIA’s existence (Global Corruption Barometer, 2013), bribery victimization rates had significantly declined (Latin American Public Opinion Project [LAPOP], 2010-2014) and seventy-seven percent of the population indicated willingness to join an anti-corruption organization, more than 20% above global average (GCB, 2013).
A major overarching objective was to create an environment and develop more favorable conditions for the longstanding and deeply entrenched impunity of ‘big fish’ to be broken. During the three years some senior public officials and a few private sector individuals were brought before the courts but successful prosecution remains the exception, with only one recent conviction of note. In support of our partners and colleagues involved in the fight against corruption, NIA has so far facilitated training of over 300 investigators, prosecutors and judges in weekend training seminars and workshops. These efforts forms an ongoing part of NIA’s work.