Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | March 10, 2013
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Tackling corruption like the 'Turks' - TCI's special prosecutor serious about task
Justice Minister Mark Golding
While Jamaica continues to drag its foot with the long-promised office of a special prosecutor, regional neighbour the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has pushed on with a similar unit and is already reaping the benefits.

Jamaica has been speaking about the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor since 2007, when then Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced that one would be established to "probe, indict and imprison public officials guilty of corruption or misconduct".

Almost two years later, 2009, after the Sir Robin Auld-led commission of enquiry into allegations of corruption and malfeasance in the TCI, a special prosecutor's office is leading the fight against corruption in that country and it is winning.

In its third year of operation, the Special Investigation Prosecution Team (SIPT) in the TCI has charged 12 people with corruption-related crimes, pulled in US$31 million and recovered 2,500 acres of Crown land worth approximately US$100 million.

FINANCIAL BOOST FROM UK

Its US$6-million annual operating cost was retrospectively refunded by the United Kingdom (UK) for the first two years, in recognition of the dire state of the TCI public finances. No decision has been made whether this will happen again this financial year.

The SIPT is led by Helen Garlick and has a civil-recovery side run by Edwards Wildman. This civil-recovery side has recovered US$19 million (of the US$31 million) so far, and 2,500 acres of Crown land, worth around US$100 million.

In the meantime, Jamaica is still in the dry phase of the push towards establishing its single anti-corruption entity.

Late last month, Justice Minister Mark Golding reaffirmed the Portia Simpson Miller-led Cabinet's commitment to establishing the anti-corruption agency, but declined to give a solid timeline.

"Cabinet has authorised the issuance of drafting instructions to the Office of the Parliamentary Council for the preparation of the legislation. Experience has taught me to be circumspect in projecting time frames for the development of legislation and, therefore, I will keep my target date close to my chest and simply say that we hope to have a draft bill for review in the near future," Golding.

"It is proposed that the new entity will be established as a commission of Parliament in order to ensure its independence in carrying out its functions," added Golding said.

EYEING SIERRA LEONE'S MODEL

Last week, Golding told The Sunday Gleaner that the single anti-corruption agency would not be a replica of what exists in the TCI.

"Our model is more along the lines of Sierra Leone's anti-corruption agency," said Golding.

The justice minister also said that it would be difficult to compare Jamaica and the TCI because it is not like for like.

"The TCI is not an independent nation . We looked at different models around the world and Sierra Leone's agency is the one closest to what the Government envisions," said Golding.

In the TCI, the SIPT was set up to work with the attorney general to conduct criminal investigations and any resulting prosecutions.

In addition to the 12 persons charged by the SIPT in the past three years, it is also seeking the extradition of its former premier, Michael Misick, from Brazil.

tyrone.reid@gleanerjm.com

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