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Pressure on the Integrity Commission increases

Pressure on the Integrity Commission increases

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Greg Christie

Senators in the government who support Christie’s removal

The Integrity Commission (IC), which fights corruption, is under increasing pressure because of how it handled a report on alleged actions by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. In an unprecedented move, all 13 Government senators have called for Greg Christie, the IC’s executive director, to be fired or resign.
The senators have charged Christie with presiding over the “unjust handling” of the recent publication of the report concerning several contracts during Holness’ time as the minister of youth and education.
The senators have also accused Christie of giving Holness “unjust treatment” because the director of corruption prosecution’s decision, which cleared Holness of any wrongdoing in the awarding of contracts to Westcon Construction Limited, whose owners Holness has a close relationship with, was published only after it had already been rendered.

The IC issued a statement on Friday in response to a barrage of criticism for the delay, saying: “It is worth emphasizing and emphasizing that publication of the judgment could not be done before or concurrently with the report.

“It had to wait until the report was filed. That is the legislation as written by the legislature, the commissioners continued.

The IC stated that its executive director “had no control over the content of an investigative report or a judgment” with respect to them.

Nevertheless, given that the early reports on his referral to the director of the corruption prosecution were extensively publicized on a national and international level, the Government senators have blasted Christie for his perceived participation in the development that has tarnished Holness’ reputation.

The executive director repeated content on Twitter that denigrated the official (Prime Minister Holness), and posts by the ED and the commission itself that curiously omitted any mention of the official’s exoneration, according to the Government senators. “This unusual and bizarre treatment of the issue has been exacerbated by the executive director’s republication of material on Twitter maligning the official Prime Minister Holness),” they said.

As a consequence of the executive director’s administration of the commission’s business and his public conduct on social media, they continued, “It is not an exaggeration to state that the whole Integrity Commission has been thrown into public contempt and subjected to mockery.”

The prestige of the nation, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), and the IC itself, according to the senators, has suffered significantly as a result of the overall circumstances.

The silence of the anti-corruption organization and Christie’s retweets of “both locally and globally produced information maligning the head of one of the three branches of Jamaica’s Government” are believed to have exacerbated the harm done to the commission in particular.

On that note, the senators stated that “immediate action, which must include an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the actions described above, and the resignation or other(otherwise) removal of the executive director, must be taken to restore the reputation and governance of the commission as an institution.”

Moreover, the senators have requested that the IC take into account the following queries, which they claim to call for prompt responses:

“1. Why did the commission not issue its decision on the report that was concurrently filed with the report?

2. What is the reason for the commission’s quiet following the report’s submission and before the verdict was issued, when they (are said to have had) the legal right to publicly address the rumors and false information reported in the national and international media?

3. Given that the executive director must have known of the exoneration in the decision, what may account for his (suspected) behavior on social media at the time?

4. Is the commission’s continuation in its current form and under its current leadership in the best interests of the commission and all parties involved?

The influential Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) demanded an explanation from the IC earlier on Friday as to why the report and decision could not have been presented to Parliament simultaneously.

The Metry Seaga-led PSOJ said that “the ramifications of that atrocious crime has resulted in irreparable harm being inflicted to the Office of the Prime Minister – the highest elected post in the country” because of the public outcry that rightly followed the partial revelation.

Even while we tirelessly fight to eradicate corruption at all levels of our society, the PSOJ said, “incalculable damage has been imposed on the country’s brand.”

In this regard, the private sector organization claimed that the “careless or purposeful omission” had damaged the office’s reputation, especially in light of the commission’s crucial role in holding public officials to the highest standards of ethics and integrity.

If it turns out that the Integrity Commission’s procedures are ineffective or incompetent, the PSOJ stated, “we must know, and repercussions must follow, including, but not limited to, the resignation of whoever is responsible.”

Oniel Grant, president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), also spoke on the subject and said it was important to carefully consider the identification of individuals by the IC who was allegedly implicated in acts of corruption.

“The existence of a report naming public officials in acts of corruption not only damages the individual but also the institution of Government,” the JCSA head said in a statement to the media on Friday. “The completion of the process leading to the laying of charges is incomplete, or when a report is shared publicly in a preliminary fashion when the matter was not previously in the public domain.”

Daryl Vaz and Robert Morgan, both cabinet ministers, have joined those criticizing the IC for releasing the findings and then allegedly delaying the decision exonerating Holness, while simultaneously attacking Christie.

Christie has also been urged to step down from the Integrity Commission or be removed from it by Young Jamaica, one of the JLP’s youth wings.

Despite Holness being cleared of any misconduct, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has also asked for prompt action to be done against individuals at the IC who were in charge of submitting the report.

Chuck asserted during a radio appearance that the study ought to have been shelved rather than tabled or made public.

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