Church wants Integrity Commission protected from possible suppression
JCC President Rev Kenneth Richards

THE Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) says the Integrity Commission (IC) needs to be protected from possible suppression of its authority, and that its independence must remain protected and preserved.

In a release Friday the church group said there is a need for the nation's continued commitment to the important role of the commission as an essential tool in the governance mechanism of the country's democracy.

The release from the group comes against the recent attack against the commission after it released a report in Parliament in which Prime Minister Andrew Holness was referred to its director of corruption prosecution after irregularities were cited in the award of contracts awarded to a close friend of his when he was minister of education.

However, two days after the director of corruption prosecution said it had no evidence on which to prosecute the prime minister a stormy debate erupted in which questions were raised about the timing of the release of the report, with some suggesting it was designed to embarrass the prime minister.

The commission denied the allegations, pointing out that both documents could not be tabled in the House at the same time.

Said the JCC: "The Integrity Commission has attracted intense scrutiny and adverse criticism from many stakeholders in our nation. The partisan and sectarian reactions to the IC's tabling in the Parliament of the report of the director of investigation and the ruling of the director of corruption prosecution are understandable and expected as the respective proponents exercise their constitutional rights of free speech."

It added: "The commission has responded to these accusations with a statement which has essentially pointed to the prescriptions of the law as the basis on which it has understood and exercised its authority and conducted its affairs."

At the same time, however, the JCC said that great benefit could be derived from an effort by the Integrity Commission to provide greater clarification regarding its actions, and supports the call for it to do so.

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