Barbados has amended and brought new legislation to Parliament aimed at increasing confidence in the economy and to stomp out corruption, within recent months.
And, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, outlined some of these initiatives during a recent courtesy call with United Nations Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq; National Human Rights Advisor, Michelle Brathwaite; and Permanent Secretary, Yvette Goddard, at the ministry’s Wildey, St. Michael headquarters.
Among the legislation outlined by the Attorney General was the Integrity in Public Life Bill, which he said was “virtually complete”, but was expected to return to Parliament this month, so changes could be made.
Mr. Marshall explained that it was recognized that simply passing the legislation was not enough, as it targeted a narrow band of individuals in public life, and as a result, other statutory instruments to support the legislation were needed.
Those changes, he said, would see areas being extracted from the bill and establishing legal principles in stand-alone legislation to ensure that everyone, including those in public life, such as ministers and permanent secretaries, were covered.
Meanwhile, the minister also said it was government’s intention to replace the 1929 Anti-Corruption Act with a new one, and ensure that there was whistle blower protection legislation to protect those who wanted to speak out against crimes.
“People come and say that they are paid money by public officials for certain things, but they fear being victimized if asked to come forward to give evidence,” he said, noting that the latter legislation would guard against such practices.
He further pointed out that government was also seeking to “tackle” those persons with unexplained wealth through legislation, while revisions were already made to the Bail Act.
The possibility of Cabinet soon being asked to accede to The Hague Convention and Child Protection Treaty was also discussed, as it was believed such a move would strengthen the island’s international commitment.
However, Mr. Marshall told the UNDP representative that he believed Barbados could benefit from technical assistance wherever it was available.
“One of our challenges as a small state is putting adequate resources in place to deal with these things,” he said.
Mr. Trebucq welcomed the changes to the Anti-Corruption Bill and the convention relating to children, and gave Mr. Marshall the assurance that the UN stood ready to give support wherever possible.