Apr 21, 2018 News
A new report released by the United States Department of State has pointed to widespread public perception of corruption.
The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which is the department’s most-read publication by far, noted that while the law in Guyana provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively.
“There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year, and administration officials responded to the reports. There remained a widespread public perception of corruption involving officials at all levels, including the police and the judiciary,” according to the report released last week.
As it relates to financial disclosure, the report acknowledged that although the law requires public officials to declare their assets to an integrity commission, the commission had not been constituted by the end of 2017.
The Commission had lapsed in 2012 under the Donald Ramotar presidency. The members of the Commission were sworn in February. The members are attorney Kumar Doraisami, the committee’s chairman; attorney Thandi McAllister; attorney Rosemary Benjamin-Noble and Pandit Rabindranauth Persaud.
According to the U.S , the law sets out both criminal and administrative sanctions for nondisclosure. If a person fails to file a declaration, that fact can be published in the daily newspapers and the official gazette. Failure to comply with the law can lead to a summary conviction, fines, and imprisonment for six to 12 months. If property is not disclosed as required, the magistrate convicting the defendant must order the defendant to make a full disclosure within a set time.
The U.S noted that there were no such publication or convictions occurred during the first nine months of 2017.
The Commission was established to scrutinize public officers to ensure that they do not use their officers for financial gain.
Under the law, public officers including the President, Permanent Secretaries, Director of Public Prosecutions, Auditor General, Commissioner of Police, the Army Chief, Heads of the Service Commissions, Foreign Affairs officials, Judges and Magistrates and Department Heads are required to declare their assets to the commission.
Also required to submit declaration forms of their earnings and gifts received are Regional Executive Officers, the Chief Elections Officer, Mayors, Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers of state companies, Registrars of Lands and the Commissioner-General of Guyana Revenue Authority, along with Presidential Advisors, and Heads of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Forestry Commission.
In response to the report, Prime Minister Moses Nagamottoo described the report as a balanced one that recognises Guyana as an open and free country, that has distanced itself, since 2015, from blatant human rights violations including extra-judicial killings and wanton official corruption.
He stated that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration had been cited in previous reports for “pervasive corruption” and under it, Guyana slumped to the lowest level of the world corruption perception index.
“No wonder, then, that the current Report alluded that there remained that widespread public perception, though recognising that the new government has effectively implemented criminal laws against corrupt practices.
“Our Government would take a deep look at the Report though as a first reaction, it does appear that Guyana has stepped forward into the sunlight of better human right practices, since elections were last held in 2015,” Nagamottoo outlined.
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