US Gov't drops NIA

US Gov't drops NIA

Ambassador says funding being redirected to judicial system

BY VERNON DAVIDSON
Executive editor — publications
davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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The United States Government will not renew its funding of National Integrity Action (NIA) when the current agreement ends next month. Instead, Ambassador Donald Tapia says Washington is to direct that money to improving Jamaica's judicial system .

Ambassador Tapia revealed his Government's intention during a discussion with Jamaica Observer reporters and editors at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in St Andrew on Tuesday afternoon.

“We spent US$10.9 million. That's a lot of money,” he said of the US Government's funding of the NIA, which describes itself as a “non-profit organisation aimed at combating corruption and building integrity in Jamaica”.

Ambassador Tapia was expanding on a point he made in an address to the Rotary Club of Kingston on January 30. At the time, he did not name the NIA but it was an open secret that the organisation was the subject of his declaration that the US Government had not got a return on its investment in the anti-corruption entity.

“When I mentioned about us funding an organisation, I didn't mention the organisation, but it seemed like everybody knew the organisation,” he said on Tuesday.

When he was asked to state whether his Government was cutting its funding to the NIA, Tapia said the current funding “runs out in March... we've done our share”.

“What I want to see is, if we're going to spend that kind of money, why are we not spending it... [on] the judicial system? That's where we are moving funds, to help where we can... on the judicial system,” the US ambassador said.

He pointed to the case load in the courts, saying that there are more than 17,000 cases to be adjudicated. He argued that the time it takes to get some cases tried can affect the quality of the evidence.

Tapia said in addition to funding a programme in high schools to combat juvenile delinquency, the US is assisting the Jamaica Constabulary Force with the compilation of police reports.

“We are now funding that, and we are actually giving classes... in how do you write a report that when it goes before a judge and a jury that they have the evidence,” he said.

Last year Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, in his contribution to the sectoral debate, said while there has been a consistent reduction in the backlog of criminal cases, there are still too many matters in the courts dragging on for five years and some in excess of 10 years.

National Integrity Action, which was founded in 2011, is headed by Professor Trevor Munroe, an academic and former senator and politician.


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