OAS aware of Guyana’s shortcomings
Even without, the Public Procurement Commission and other key oversight bodies to limit or fight corruption, the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) and agency of the Organisation of American States would visit Guyana on October 8,next to flesh out their understanding and to report on Guyana’s compliance.
The three-day engagement with a team drawn from Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago under the Organization of American States (OAS) would surround state, government and civil society bodies and be dominated by oversight bodies.
Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, during his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President yesterday, said the anti-corruption body and its planned site visit would focus on Guyana’s compliance to its treaty obligations; since the first report under the treaty’s Mutual Evaluation Mechanism (MEM).
He noted, “The site visit is intended to provide the OAS with a much broader perspective than a site visit ideally provides on the anti-corruption legislative, judicial and administrative dimensions in Guyana.” This is the first such visit to Guyana.
He said that national oversight bodies such as Parliament and the Director of Public Prosecutions would be approached, be actively involved, and dominant in their engagement with the OAS.
However, Government’s reaction to the imminent report if it contains unsavory comments of Guyana in relation to corruption is questionable since Government has always rejected reports that painted the country in a negative light.
For instance, US Human Rights Report, Transparency International (TI) and other watchdog agencies have been rejected by Government because of poor ratings and criticism. TI’s local body Transparency International Guyana Inc. has been calling on Government to establish key oversight bodies such as the Public Procurement Commission and Integrity Commission and the appointment of an Ombudsman.
Yet Dr Luncheon said that this should not be construed as Government ignores the fact of corruption in the society.
“I don’t know if there is a stance that is reflective of what seems to be suggested- denial- nor am I certain that a report, in this instance, the site visit and the report of the site visit, would in some way or could in some way modify this purported stance,” he noted.
Dr. Luncheon emphasized that the Administration never disputed the existence of corruption in the system. Cabinet is aware of the presence of corruption; the challenges of fighting corruption remain a focus of Government, he added.
According to Dr. Luncheon, he doesn’t believe that the MESICIC is unaware of the non-appointment of an Ombudsman or the non-establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
He said, “In the MEM all of the features of a robust anti-corruption environment that are displayed in other countries are looked at in Guyana’s case and others. That is what the MEM does. It is to identify the shortcomings. They are here to do a site visit and not to promote the creation or filling of constitutional vacancies. They are here to engage the existing bodies that are involved in these governance activities that are involved in addressing oversight issues.”
Dr. Luncheon emphasized that the MEM allows nation states to evaluate each other in the context of treaty obligations. This would be Guyana’s first experience with a site visit. He noted the treaty obligations under the convention see the compliance reports for each member state in the OAS being compiled by your peers.
Dr. Luncheon said reports are periodically provided with recommendations and on the basis of those recommendations activities are planned. This site visit is the fourth round and Guyana might have been in the last round of site visits to all of the member states that are under the treaty.
MESICIC is an inter-governmental body established within the framework of the OAS. It supports the States Parties in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention through a process of reciprocal evaluation, based on conditions of equality among the states. In this mechanism, recommendations are formulated with respect to those areas in which there are legal gaps or in which further progress is necessary.
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