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An Integrity Committee is most definitely needed

Dear Editor,

Okay, I have read the document on the establishing of the Integrity Committee (IC) and I must say that I CANNOT DISAGREE MORE with my good friend MP Christophe Emmanuel. I do not think that the establishing of this Committee is "bad for business" unless it is the business of nepotism and corruption that have plagued us for the last 25 years.

I also believe that some of the comments made by many members of Parliament misrepresent what is actually in the document. I am not saying they are lying but they are taking a very extreme view of what powers the Committee actually have.

MP William Marlin in his comments stated that a simple relationship with a Minister or MP can disqualify you from a contract or job, which according to me is really stretching the meaning of the document. Article 1 specifically states what aspects the Committee can look at. It does not look like a baseless witch hunt in my opinion.

The United People's Party in the person of MP Frankie Meyers submitted some amendments to the document which I can agree with but I most definitely can't agree with the 'pleading the fifth' comment. I think that this should be valid for private citizens but once you put yourself in the public office this rule should not apply to you.

You want to plead the fifth, you should HAVE TO resign from your position. I must mention that I do agree with the UP that in the first instance the advice from the IC should NOT be binding but in the case that the Ministers of Parliament do not act on the advice, it should after a specific period of time become binding.

I also agree with MP Sarah Wescott-Williams that an Integrity Committee HAS TO be established. If you listen to MP Christophe Emmanuel and MP Silveria Jacobs, they do not see the Committee as being necessary as they feel that the current High Councils of State should suffice in controlling Government decisions. In practice this is, however, not the case. Government continuously does whatever it wants with decisions and especially with the Government-owned companies and other semi-private organizations.

Article 21 clearly states that the IC, before making any advice, has to first do a preliminary investigation and in this preliminary investigation will check; a. the validity of the complaint, the truthfulness and the position of the whistle blower; b. the professionalism, consistency, completeness, independence and impartiality of the investigation; c. the proportionality and substance of the investigation and the procedures and methods used and; d. The way external experts can be used if the knowledge does not exist in the IC.

So there is a specific process that needs to be followed, a witch hunt is very difficult if these rules are followed.

Article 22 states that once the investigation is complete the IC has to report to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister then reports to the Governor. The report is then published in the 'Landscourant'. Again this is a normal process and the ghost stories about the IC making 'decisions' that cannot be viewed or challenged is just wrong.

Article 23 establishes the secrecy of the investigation which protects those being investigated in case nothing is found that they are not wrongly affected by being investigated.

Article 24 is to me a strange article because even though the advice of the IC is binding, the Council of Ministers (COM) has 4 weeks to respond as to how they will remedy the situation. Sub 2 of this article states that if the COM disagrees with the advice, they have to motivate this in writing within the 4 weeks.

In conclusion, I must say that with the small changes I mentioned above, had I been a Member of Parliament I would have to vote for this motion. Maybe that is the difference here; maybe the MPs feel that they will be investigated just for the fact that they are MPs. Why would they feel this way? MP Christophe Emmanuel mentioned on the floor of Parliament that he hasn't done anything so if this is the case I expect him to vote for the IC since if it remains this way, he has nothing to fear.

Who I think should definitely vote for an amended motion are the ones whose names come up in rumours of serious wrongdoings in the form of using their positions for personal benefit and the benefit of their friends and family. These MPs should be the first to vote for the IC motion if they are doing nothing wrong. I would think they would want to clear their name. If these MPs vote against this motion, we can only assume that there is something they are hiding. At least that is what I will be thinking.

Kendall Dupersoy

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