Letters — 24 September 2013 — by YaYa

Mon. Sept. 23, 2013

Greetings, Brother Prime Minister,

Do you recall this interview (at the end of this email) that you gave Adele Ramos in July, 2011? What message is the GoB sending when 2 years, 2 months, and 12 days later, Belize still does not have an active Integrity Commission?

In the interview you said you did not have time to think about new appointments. To the best of my knowledge, the duties of the members of the last Integrity Commission ended in 2010. Is that an indication of this administration’s lack of political will to minimize corruption in Belize?

Has Belize become a signatory to the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention? If Belize is not a signatory, why is that Belize’s position?

You may want to read and share this document with the other 177 elected politicians in Belize. I am willing to assist in the process to minimize corruption in Belize.

Thanks,
YaYa

Integrity Commission hibernating

by Adele Ramos

BELIZE CITY, July 8, 2011

Belize’s Integrity Commission—the body that has jurisdiction to carry out its work under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act—is inactive and has been without a chair since B.Q. Pitts, the chairman appointed at the end of July 2009, was given the post of Attorney General by the Barrow administration last June.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow told us this evening that he has not had time to think about it, but new appointments should take place shortly.

In a release issued August 13, 2009, the members of the Commission were named as Pitts, Dean Lindo, QC; Mrs. Maria Fernandez Stuart [since deceased]; Armead Gabourel, George Swift, Magali Marin-Young and Norma Sutherland.

We note that the Commission was appointed for a two-year term, “to investigate corrupt activities by persons in public life.”

When Amandala contacted the Office of the Integrity Commission in Belmopan on Wednesday, to check on whether elected politicians have been filing their assets and liabilities regularly, as required by law, we were told that even though some Parliamentarians have indeed been filing, nothing can be made public at the moment, because the chairman has to review the filings before they are published for public consumption.

The filings are made under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Belize, and published by the Office of the Integrity Commission.

Section 6 of the Act requires everyone in public life to make sworn declarations of their assets, income, and liabilities, including those of their spouse and children living with them.

Whereas the Commission has no powers to impose a prison sentence, the Act gives it the power to issue a severe reprimand or a fine not exceeding $10,000; to seize or forfeit to the State any property acquired in abuse or corruption of office; or recommend the person’s removal from public office.

“Those persons in public life include members of the House of Representatives and Senate as well as the Mayor and Councilors of all cities and Town Boards,” the 2009 announcement on the Integrity Commission explained.

The February 13, 2010, issue of the Belize Gazette included filings dated December 31, 2008, claiming that Prime Minister Dean Barrow was worth $3.3 million — more than three times the disclosed wealth of his forerunner, ex-PM Said Musa, who claimed to have been worth $934,957.

Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act empowers the Integrity Commission to further investigate these claims, even after the filings are published in the Government’s Gazette.

The Commission may initiate an investigation based on its own suspicion or a well-founded complaint from a member of the public to the Commission.

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