BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday August 28, 2018 – It’s going to take Barbados much more than an Integrity in Public Life Bill to beat corruption in public office, the man who chairs the Turks and Caicos Islands Integrity Commission has told legislators.
Sir David Simmons, who previously served as Barbados’ attorney general and later chief justice, told the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the proposed Integrity in Public Life Bill 2018, in its first public hearing yesterday, that the legislation has to be accompanied by other related laws to properly fight corruption.
“It cannot exist on its own. It cannot adequately do the job,” he said. “…There must be a code of conduct developed which must provide for sanctions for breach of the code.”
“I would like to suggest you need legislation to regulate campaign financing of political parties…and you need a Freedom of Information Act. I think those two, plus the code of conduct and this legislation as a suite of legislation will ensure that Barbados has taken proper steps towards providing minimum standards for good governance and the conduct of persons in public life,” Sir David added in a presentation that lasted over two hours.
He stressed that Barbados must start to put its house in order to align itself with the rest of the world and the best practices that are being developed to enhance good governance.
Sir David, who helped establish the Turks and Caicos Islands Integrity Commission, pointed out that with Barbados seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it will have to pay particular attention to its efforts to stamp out corruption.
“Corruption is attracting the attention of world leaders and the international financial institutions…The International Monetary Fund that we are dealing with now promulgated a framework for enhanced engagement with countries on governance and corruption issues. And the objective, according to the release from the IMF, is to ensure that issues of corruption are dealt with ‘systematically, effectively, candidly and in a manner that reflects uniformity of treatment’,” said the former Chief Justice.
Sir David also said he believed some staff needed to be brought on board when the Integrity Commission is established with the new legislation, inclusive of specially trained financial investigators, accountants, information technology specialists, and most importantly, criminal investigators working outside of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
He also made a strong case for whistleblower legislation with provision to protect the informants, a major public education programme to ensure the widest possible buy-in, and much stiffer penalties that would deter potential corruption.