by Linda Straker
- Robert Robinson and Superintendent Tafawa Pierre at regional meeting of Caribbean anti-corruption agencies
- Anti-Corruption Benchmarks to promote integrity and combat graft within public and private sectors
- Framework package consists of 22 benchmarks
Two representatives from Grenada who are attached to anti-corruption agencies are among participants at the 5th Annual Regional meeting of Caribbean anti-corruption agencies which began in the Cayman Islands on Monday.
Scheduled to conclude on Friday, 7 June, the participants were informed during the opening ceremony by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland about the framework to help member countries investigate and prosecute corruption offences.
The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks framework is currently being developed by the secretariat in consultation with member countries. The framework would provide clear steps to promote integrity and combat graft within public and private sectors.
The Secretary-General told the participants, “This package consists of a set of 22 benchmarks, covering topics from sanctions for corruption offences to investigating and prosecuting authorities, and from political lobbying to the disclosure of asset ownership.
“Each benchmark is defined by a principle and contains detailed guidance for meeting the set level of achievement.
“The principles and guidance are consistent with international standards, and if adopted would go further in covering other areas of concern not previously addressed.”
A news release from the Commonwealth Secretariat said that corruption costs the global economy around US$2 trillion a year and the framework is the first such document to cover all areas of the public and private conduct.
It is expected to be considered by the Commonwealth Heads of Governments in Rwanda next year.
At present, 5 Commonwealth Caribbean countries — the Bahamas, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St Lucia — rank among the 50 least corrupt countries in the world, while none sit among the top 20 most corrupt.
Scotland said, “The Commonwealth’s leadership and cooperation contribute to this [achievement], which brings member countries together, recognising that we are all at our strongest when we combine our efforts.
“The Commonwealth has been active in providing technical assistance and development support for national anti-corruption agencies to build their effectiveness in dealing with graft.”
The release said that the Secretary-General stressed that the work of anti-corruption agencies must continue with renewed vigour in order to fully achieve the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The meeting brings together the Caribbean’s most senior officials tasked with thwarting illicit financial flows. This year’s focus is based around the theme ‘Transforming words into action: revitalising the fight against corruption.’ Panel discussions will cover areas such as corruption in sports, modernising legislative frameworks, the investigative battle against corruption and new technologies to combat graft.
At the meeting, officials will review their national anti-graft efforts, exchange experiences and improve understanding of the advanced techniques and procedures. They will enhance their knowledge in forensics, financial accounting and asset tracking, as well as prosecutions, public awareness and prevention.
Looking forward, the adviser and head of the Commonwealth’s public sector governance unit, Dr Roger Koranteng said, “Anti-graft bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean will emerge from the meeting as strong watchdog institutions with a more coherent response to corruption and transparency problems in the region to achieve the SDG 16.”
The Commonwealth has organised the meeting in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Commission for Standards in Public Life and the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Caribbean.
In 2015, the association was established to leverage the Commonwealth’s convening power to boost south-south learning and sharing of practices among the countries of the southern hemisphere.
Grenada’s participants at the meeting are Robert Robinson, Deputy Chairman of the Integrity Commission; and Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Superintendent Tafawa Pierre.
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