Ethics body hits early hurdles

| 15/09/2010

(CNS): Although only a few months old, the Commission for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) has already encountered a number of hurdles preventing it from doing what it is supposed to do when it comes to supervising public ethics. Its primary role is to monitor the potential for corruption and conflict of interest among politicians and public servants, but according to its first report it needs a law to ensure compliance. The commission revealed that in an attempt to examine the register which requires politicians to declare their business interests it found no reports had been made by the Legislative Assembly clerk and a select committee created to deal with issues relating to the Register of Interests has never met.

This select committee is chaired by government backbencher and George Town MLA Ellio Solomon and is supposed to ensure members are following the Register of Interests Law 1996 (ROIL) by openly and honestly revealing their business, financial and other interests that could give rise to a conflict with their role as political representatives, as well as those of close relatives. However, the select committee has not actually met since its creation following the 2009 election.
 
According to the law, the Register of Interest should be open to the public for viewing every weekday during business hours. Although the commission said it was able to review the most recent entries into the register, when members visited the LA, no other records were available to be viewed.
 
“The CSPL was therefore unable to ascertain whether there are perceived conflicts of interest and/or anomalies in relation to any of the declarations mandated by the ROIL past or present,” the members charged with monitoring political ethics revealed. “The CPSL was unable to ascertain whether or not such registers were compliant with the Register of Interests Law 1996.”
 
The CSPL said in its report that legislation is needed to guide and support the commission in accordance with the requirements of the constitution. It said issues such as exactly who aside from elected politicians needs to declare their interests and which of their family members’ interests must be revealed and the need for some meaningful sanction was required to ensure disclosure as mandated by the Constitution and the ROIL.
 
“The lack of required … legislation renders the additional responsibilities of the CSPL under section 117 of the constitution meaningless in so far as it relates to the Commission’s ability to validate powers of compliance monitoring for standards in public life and investigations of potential breaches.”
 
The members concluded that there was little they could do until the law was in place and said it could not effectively meet its mandate without it.
 
The report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Friday morning by Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, who advised MLAs to read it. “I Invite members to read the report as it introduces some new considerations that members should make themselves aware of, especially the maintenance ofthe Register of Interests,” he said. “It is envisaged that this commission will in the near to medium term be putting forward proposals for legislation to give better effect to discharge of functions falling to them,” he told the House but did not indicate when that might be or indicate the urgency which the report had implied.
 
Ebanks explained the Commission for Standards in Public Life was one of six commissions established under the constitution. The Electoral Boundary Commission has already completed its work and been disbanded and the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, which will assist the governor with grants of clemency to prisoners, has yet to be formed. The others are the Judicial & Legal Services Commission the Human Rights Commission and the Constitutional Commission.
 
The CSPL is chaired by Karin Thompson and members include Nyda Mae Flatley, Roy McTaggart, Hedley Robinson and Winston Rose.
 
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Comments (26)

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  1. nauticalone says:

    No surprise here.

    The powers that be will drag their a$$e$ all the way with anything to do with anti-corruption…..or human rights. But it will come…one way or another…

  2. Tim Ridley says:

    It is good to see that this Commission has taken the time to produce a Report. Whether we shall see any legislative action any time soon to remedy the obvious deficiencies pointed out in the Report is another question. In the meantime, hopefully the Commission can produce some practical guidance to assist those in public life not only to comply with the various Laws but also to comply with best practices.

    This leads me to the next question. Where is the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)? With no disrespect to the other Commissions and similar bodies that have come into existence recently, the ACC is probably the most important of them all. So far its profile is so low as to be very concerning. It is time that changed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tim, I believe the Commission for Standards in Public Life is the Anti-Corruption Commission. Its primary function under the Constitution is "to assist in the setting of the highest standards of integrity and competence in public life in order to ensure the prevention of corruption or conflicts of interest".

      CNS: The ACC is a separate entity. See Civilians appointed to anti-corruption commission

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, CNS. I see. The Anti-Corruption Commission is constituted under the Anti-Corruption Law rather than under the Constitution. 

      • Tim Ridley says:

        The ACC came into existence on 1 1 2010. It has five Commissioners and is chaired by the Police Commissioner ex officio. The other ex officio Commissioners are the Auditor General and the Complaints Commissioner. Two private qualified citizens are appointed by the Governor.

        The ACC and the CSPL clearly need to work closely together and not trip over each other. But the ACC has the greater teeth and a broader local and international remit. Whether it will use them is another question.

        The ACC is fundamentally flawed in its structure. It should be a totally independent body in order to be effective, as is the case in say Australia and Hong Kong. This it is not, starting at the very top (and with no disrespect to the ex officio Commissioners). This was pointed out to the Government on a number of occasions prior to and after the Law was enacted. There has been no action.

    • Pending says:

      If we saw who was in charge of the ACC then that might shed some light? And it would be of no suprise that Govt take their sweet f"ing time to get that up and running as we have an idea that it might expose quite alot of the goings on down here.

      Next they will pass a bill / motion to have it dissolved and that will be the end of it.

  3. noname says:

    Dress up a third world Country and what do you get?  A third world country with very confused victims but still a third world country.

  4. Rafaelle says:

    A conflicted of interest defined by our politicians means anything that inhibits or interferes with them from doing deals whilst elected to office through the front door or back door and making a lot of money…

    Could someone please sit them down also and explain to them like a three year old  that the register of interest  also pertains to "all assets" in Cayman or "overseas" and also that if it is in a company or the wife maiden name our a relative it is consider an interest. And finally property is consider and asset some don’t seem to understand that. 

  5. noname says:

     It is as though those in charge play at  governing. 

  6. Shock and Awe says:

    Hmmmmm…………..

  7. Anon says:

    mmm now that seems like T & C

     

    • whistling duck says:

      Just say it –

      Turks and Caicos…

      I fear the pendullum of extremity may swing to either Full British Rule or Independence. Either way we will lose our freedoms for good and be held hostage under a Dictator. 

      Seeing how corruption and crime is being talked about, and the Corruption team poligraphing the police, it am thinking it won’t be too long before the pendullum swings to FULL BRITISH RULE!  And you know, those sharks from the UK will be happy to get their hands on the government’s purse.

      CAYMAN LOOK OUT –  IT’S COMING! 

      • Pending says:

        What purse are you referring to? We are broke and the government is digging the hole even deeper. At the rate this is going I would support British Rule, at least they would know what to do.

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t be so sure about the UK "knowing what to do". Have you seen the size of their budget deficit? Suggest you read BBC UK news online. Following a massive cock-up on immigration matters over the past forty years, they’ve also succeeded in mishandling their finances to the point where they are now in a very sorry state, with drastic cuts to public services looming, even to the poor, and massive layoffs, even to police forces, which will swell the already high number of unemployed.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s all a big joke played by politicians on the people.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This here is the very heart, the hot red center of Cayman’s woes.  You can scratch around the fringes and talk tough about some low-life or other that shot some one or robbed some one, you can complain about the bad drivers, parents, police etc.  But if you want the root …(other than yourself that is) …. it is this.  It is the Gods we look to to rule our world that are just a wee bit more than flawed that are at the eminating center of what we call badness.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with this one.

    The term "conflict of interest" does not seem to be in the Caymanian dictionary. In the past, the minister of envioronment and the minister of development were one and the same; therefore, goodbye to the mangroves and all that was once good in Cayman.

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      If you had narrowed this down a bit to the current crop of political leaders then I would have agreed with you, but I find it unacceptable to make such a generalised statement about Caymanians. 

    • Anonymous says:

      … and I can never get enough joy out of seeing who is the head of ‘planning’ 

  11. Anonymous says:

    ummmm. i don’t know what my business’ are.  I just pull oermits on people, and  take a cut 

  12. Anonymous says:

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    WE thumb our noses AT YOU …. little worms.  You CANNOT make us comply!!! we will not bend to you …  little worms.  WE are you elected officials and have naught but contempt for you!

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha  

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

  13. Anonymous says:

    Pension thieves don’t want to declare.. PLEASE pull their pie holes out of the public trough and put them in jail.  Please

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ah, Cayman! An overseas dependent territory that wished to protect its own indigenous members at the expense of others, you needed to look carefully at the Constitution you voted for. You all aint seen nuttin yet when human rights obligations kick in. No more saying you must do that or pay that (fishening licences??) because you are not a Caymanian. Or how about the advertisements for jobs  – "Only Caymanians need apply".The times they are a changing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Section 16(4) of the Constitution we voted for says "Subsection (1) [the prohibition against discrimination] shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision…with respect to the entry into or exclusion from, or the employment, engaging in any business or profession, movement or residence within, the Cayman Islands of persons who are not Caymanian".

      Note that Caymanian is defined according to the Immigration Law, i.e. not simply indigenous Caymanians.

      I think YOU need to look carefully at the Constitution.  If you believe that the ECHR somehow prohibits the protection of one’s own citizens in matters of employment then you need to think again.  

       

  15. Jonathan says:

    Another case of the fox in the henhouse except now the fox has a chair to sit in.