Pressure mounts on Integrity Commission Loop Jamaica

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

In an unprecedented move, all 13 Government senators have called for the sacking or resignation of Executive Director of the Integrity Commission (IC), Greg Christie, as the anti-corruption agency comes under increasing pressure relative to its handling of a report on perceived actions by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The senators have accused Christie of presiding over the “unjust treatment” of the recent tabling of the report related to some contracts back when Holness was Education and Youth Minister.

The senators have also blamed Christie for “unjust treatment” relative to the belated publication of the connected ruling by the director of corruption prosecution, which exonerated Holness of any wrongdoing in the awarding of contracts to Westcon Construction Limited, whose principals Holness has been closely association with.

Amid a raft of public backlash for the delay, the IC, in a statement on Friday, said: “It is worth repeating and stressing that publication of the ruling could not be done before or simultaneously with the report.

“It had to await the tabling of the report. That is the law as crafted by Parliament,” the commissioners added.

In relation to its executive director, the IC declared that he “has no control over the content of an investigation report or a ruling”.

However, the Government senators have lambasted Christie for his perceived role in the development in which Holness’ reputation has been damaged, given that the initial reports on his referral to the director of corruption prosecution was widely circulated both nationally and internationally.

“This unusual and bizarre treatment of the issue has been exacerbated by the executive director’s republication of material on Twitter maligning the official Prime Minister Holness), and posts by both the ED and the commission itself which curiously omitted any mention of the exoneration of the official (Prime Minister Holness),” the Government senators stated.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the entire Integrity Commission has been brought into public disrepute and subjected to ridicule as a result of the executive director’s management of the affairs of the commission and his public deport on social media,” they added.

For the senators, the overall developments have caused serious damage to the reputation of the country, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the IC itself.

The damage to the commission, in particular, is said to have been compounded by not only the period of silence by the anti-corruption agency, but also by Christie’s republication tweets “of both domestically and internationally issued material maligning the head of one of the three branches of Jamaica’s Government.”

On that score, the senators declared that, “The reputation and governance of the commission as an institution must be restored by immediate action, which must include an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the actions described above, and the resignation or other(wise) removal of the executive director.”

The senators have also asked the IC to consider the following questions, which they said require timely answers:

“1. Why did the commission fail to deliver the ruling on the report tabled contemporaneously with the report?

2. What is the explanation for the commission’s silence after the report was tabled, and prior to the delivery of the ruling, at a time when they (are believed to have) had the legal authority to publicly correct the speculation and misinformation circulating in the local and international media?

3. What could explain the (perceived) actions of the executive director on social media at a time when he must have been aware of the exoneration contained in the ruling?

4. Is it in the best interest of the commission and all stakeholders concerned that that the commission continue in its present incarnation and under its current leadership?

Earlier on Friday, the powerful Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) called for the IC to give an account of why the report and ruling could not have been tabled at the same time in Parliament.

For the Metry Seaga-led PSOJ, “The consequences of that egregious act has resulted in irreparable damage being occasioned to the Office of the Prime Minister – the highest elected office in the country – by virtue of the public opprobrium which understandably resulted from the partial disclosure.”

The PSOJ said further that “incalculable damage has been imposed on the country’s brand, even as we arduously work to root out corruption at all stages of our society.”

On that score, the private sector body said the commission’s office had been brought into disrepute by the “careless or intentional omission”, particularly given its integral role in holding public officials to the highest standard of integrity and ethics.

“… if the truth is that the processes of the Integrity Commission lack efficiency or competence, we must know, and consequences must follow, including, but not limited to, the resignation of whomever is responsible,” the PSOJ said.

In weighing in on the issue as well, the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) President, Oniel Grant, said the naming of persons involved in alleged acts of corruption by the IC should be carefully examined.

“The existence of a report naming public officials in acts of corruption not only damages the individual, but also the institution of Government when the completion of the process leading to the laying of charges is incomplete, or when a report is shared publicly in a preliminary fashion when the matter was not previously in the public domain,” the JCSA head said in a media statement released on Friday.

Cabinet ministers Daryl Vaz and Robert Morgan have also joined those condemning the IC for its tabling of the report and then supposedly delaying the ruling absolving Holness, while also taking aim at Christie.

Young Jamaica, one of the youth arms of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has also called for Christie to resign or be separated from the Integrity Commission.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has also called for swift action to be taken against those at the IC who were responsible for tabling of the report, despite Holness being absolved of any wrongdoing.

Chuck said on a radio interview that the report should have never been tabled or published, but should rather have been shelved.