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JAMAICA OBSERVER – National authorities from 12 Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean have joined forces to establish a new regional body to enhance transparency and help fight corruption.
It’s called the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean. It was formed at the first Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Caribbean, which was convened last week, June 22-26, by the Commonwealth Secretariat in Grenada and hosted by the Integrity Commission of Grenada.
The association was inaugurated by Dame Cecile La Grenade, Governor General of Grenada, and Dr Keith Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada.
It comprises the heads of national commissions and is intended to help Caribbean countries cooperate across borders, exchange best practices and develop regional anti-corruption initiatives.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Deodat Maharaj, welcoming its formation, expressed hope that the new body will help to further strengthen public confidence in cross-border initiatives to enhance accountability.
“The formation of this new association represents a major step forward in regional efforts to support integrity and address corruption. We have high hopes for the future of this network of national agencies which will deliver practical benefits to members as a forum for knowledge sharing and coordination,” Maharaj said.
Justice Dame Monica Joseph, chairperson of the Integrity Commission of Grenada, said: “The fact that we, in the Caribbean, will be forming ourselves into a regional association is recognition by us as a body that we consider it vital for the persons who serve us in public life to function honestly, free of corruption and corrupt practices. We hope that, with that step, the peoples of the region would have confidence in the several commissions and anti-corruption bodies that form the association.”
The establishment of the Caribbean body follows the similar formation, in 2011, of the Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa, spearheaded and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The African association has helped improve the performance of national authorities through information exchanges, peer learning and by becoming a launch pad for bilateral agreements between countries.
The countries belonging to the newly formed Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.