'Too much wrongdoing'

Minister Chuck announces partnership with NIA to expose corruption islandwide

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 16, 2019

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JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck says his ministry will be partnering with anti-corruption watchdog, National Integrity Action (NIA), to strengthen anti-corruption measures and expose wrongdoing across all spheres of the society.

The NIA is proposing to help train 1,000 justices of the peace (JPs) and 3,000 restorative justice practitioners at parish seminars as part of increased collaboration with the ministry.

Speaking at the ministry's quarterly press briefing at its Constant Spring Road offices in Kingston yesterday, Minister Chuck also called on public sector workers and other Jamaicans to speak out against and report corruption.

“There is too much wrongdoing across the country, and somehow we need to expose the wrongdoers and reduce wrongdoing wherever it occurs. Wherever crime occurs we want justices of the peace to expose them, and it doesn't matter if it's a minister, a mayor, a parliamentarian, a councillor, a bureaucrat, or a permanent secretary. If they are engaged in corruption they must be exposed. That is why this ministry is working so that we can move from the 44 score (on the Corruption Perception Index) to a better score,” Chuck stated.

The minister also hit out at Members of Parliament who allegedly benefit from work contracts in their constituencies. “When I came into politics a certain contractor who had a contract in my constituency asked me (for) my bank account. He said 'we always give 10 per cent to the MP'; I was shocked, but that was what the contractor said to me. I want to send the signal out to contractors, you have no duty to give MPs, to give dons, to give anybody any portion of the contract that you have bid and succeeded with,” he declared.

At the same time, he insisted that within public bodies, ministers must take responsibility for ensuring that there is value for contract sums paid.

“The ministers get blamed because they should know. That is why I ask that anyone dealing with any contractor who see that persons who are benefiting from corruption, expose them. I ask across the country that justices of the peace be sources of information to expose crimes within their neighbourhoods... Jamaica can be a great place if decent law-abiding citizens are prepared to be informers,” Chuck asserted. He stressed that he was not suggesting that citizens intervene or try to police crime, but instead report such activities.

Executive director of the NIA, Professor Trevor Munroe said he supports the minister's call for a pushback against corruption and crime.

“The NIA wishes to give 150 per cent support to his call for people to speak out; they see wrongs, want to do the right, but keep quiet,” he said.

He said Crime Stop has been a ray of hope in that regard, with tips increasing by 25 per cent in 2018, arrests increasing by 67 per cent, and rewards tripling to approximately $8 million.

“... So [it's] not only the correct and the right thing to do, it's also effective and maybe as well the lucrative thing to do,” Professor Munroe remarked.


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