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Ombudsman wants political Code of Conduct revised

Saturday, August 04, 2012    

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POLITICAL Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair says that the political code of conduct, which his office oversees, was done in haste and needs to be revised.

"...What I actually believe is that the agreement on the political code must be revised, not reviewed...," Blair told the Human Resources and Social Development Committee of Parliament at its meeting on Tuesday.

He also had a word of caution for the committee which is exploring a motion tabled in the House of Representatives by Opposition Member of Parliament Everald Warmington (South West St Catherine) seeking to have Parliament review and revise the terms of and objectives of the Office of the Political Ombudsman to determine its relevance to the existing political structure.

"This nation is a democracy, but you will stand indicted if, for one reason or the other, you close the Office of the Ombudsman. Those of you who sit here today, will one day understand what I am saying," Blair cautioned the bipartisan committee of the House of Representatives.

The ombudsman admitted that there were inadequacies in his office, but attributed this to the haste in which it was established prior to the 2002 general election.

He explained that he was out of the periphery when the code of conduct was conceived, until he was approached by the leadership of both then governing People's National Party and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party.

"You may recall that the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica) was behind this, and they literally threatened the political parties... They made the recommendation that this office must be established. The political parties would not have gotten a dime if this was not done. And so, with great haste, in response to the demands of the PSOJ, this was done.

" I am not saying it is going to be done again, but there are watchdogs out there who are interested in not only their political affairs, but their businesses and they do not want what happened in the 90s, the 60s and the 70s to be repeated in this country...," Blair said.

He told the committee that he still had the ears of the leaders of both the PNP and the JLP.

"I have no reason to say today that the leadership of the political parties would not support the office of the ombudsman and also the holder of the office," he explained.

The committee will resume after Parliament's summer recess.

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