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At its Twenty-First Meeting, held March 18 – 22, the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) adopted the Trinidad and Tobago report on the implementation of this treaty in the context of the Fourth Round of Review of the Mechanism.
A significant portion of the report focused on examination of those oversight bodies in Trinidad and Tobago with the responsibility for the prevention, detection, punishment and eradication of acts of corruption. Accordingly, the report examines the Integrity Commission; the Office of the Auditor General; the Service Commission; the Ministry of the Attorney General, in particular the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau; and the Office of the Ombudsman. The progress made by Trinidad and Tobago in relation to the recommendations of the First Round of the MESICIC was also reviewed.
The examination was carried out taking into account Trinidad and Tobago’s response to a questionnaire, information gathered by the Technical Secretariat, and, as a new and important source of information, an on-site visit conducted October 2 - 4, 2012. This visit was carried out by a team comprising of Antigua and Barbuda, and Brazil, as well as members of the MESICIC Technical Secretariat. During that visit, the review team met with representatives of government institutions as well with civil society organizations on issues of relevance to the fight against corruption.
Some of the recommendations formulated to Trinidad and Tobago for its consideration in relation to the foregoing oversight bodies address purposes such as the following:
Provide to the Integrity Commission, the Service Commissions, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau and the Office of the Ombudsman with the financial and human resources to fully perform their attributions and functions, within available resources.
With regard to the Integrity Commission, provide it with the competence to impose administrative sanctions; implement a legislative framework for the examination of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices; and carry out training programs for persons exercising public functions with respect to their responsibilities under the Code of Conduct of the Integrity in Public Life Act as well as the workplace protections in place for reporting acts of corruption.
Regarding the Office of the Auditor General, provide it with the competence to impose administrative sanctions on government agencies and statutory authorities that fail to submit their financial statements, as well as publicizing the statutory bodies that do not submit these financial statements in a year; as well as maintain statistics on the amount returned to the State in cases of thefts or losses detected.
Pertaining to the Service Commission, implement mechanisms to modernize the recruitment and selection process to make it operate in an efficient and timely manner, address the lengthy delays in the disciplinary process; as well as publicize all the annual reports of the Public Service Commission and the Judicial and Legal Service Commission on the Services Commission Department’s website.
With respect to the Ministry of the Attorney General, in particular the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau, consider establishing measures or mechanisms that assure the independence of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on administrative matters, establish a mechanism whereby this Office provides feedback to government bodies that refer wrongdoings to it; and address the low conviction rate of corruption offences as compared to the number of investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau. With respect to this Bureau, establish a formal training program, and publicize its work on an annual basis that is easily and readily available to the public.
Regarding the Office of the Ombudsman, establish time frames with appropriate enforcement mechanisms for government departments or authorities to respond to the Ombudsman with respect to the implementation of recommendations, publicize a list of government institutions that have not complied with a recommendation of the Ombudsman and implement measures or mechanisms that establishes a budget for the Office that ensures some degree of financial autonomy.
With regard to the follow-up on the recommendations formulated to Trinidad and Tobago in the First Round of this Mechanism, the following are noted: establishment of a Register in the Integrity Commission and making the response of the Opinion Leaders Group available to the public.
Some of the recommendations still pending from the First Round or have been reformulated address issues such as: establishing codes of conduct for judicial officers as well as for the judiciary; subject those employed by contract to the Code of Conduct of the Integrity in Public Life Act; require all public servants to report acts of corruption of which they become aware during the course of their public functions; expand the Schedule in the Integrity in Public Life Act to include other senior officials with high level responsibilities in implementing public policy; and ensure that public authorities are complying with their statutory duty to respond in 30 days to a Freedom of Information request..
During this Twenty-First Meeting, similar reports were adopted for Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras and Peru. The Trinidad and Tobago report adopted by the Committee, as well as those of the aforementioned countries, is available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/mesicic4_rep.htm
123 - March 2013
The Mechanism For Follow-up on the
Implementation of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption, known as MESICIC for its Spanish acronym, is a tool to
support the development of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption through
cooperation between States Parties.
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