Government has not reneged on its promise to hold politicians accountable for any corruption which occurred under the last Government or which could occur in the future.
According to Attorney General Dale Marshall, Government has been making plans to bring investigators from overseas to look into the ill-gotten gains of some, who served in the country’s highest offices over the last ten years.
He also promised that as early as June, Government would be moving forward with the proclamation of legislation to fight and punish corruption and hold Ministers accountable for their actions.
During Sunday night’s Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) public meeting, Marshall said progress was extremely slow in securing evidence to charge politicians. While revealing that numerous people were coming forward to inform Government about acts of corruption which have occurred, many have refused to provide the necessary evidence.
“Those are the kinds of things that we are fighting, but I promise you that we are investigating and we are bringing in people from overseas to aid in this investigation.
“It isn’t for want of will, but because this kind of crime does not readily leave fingerprints and it isn’t done in the sight of cameras. It is done by stealth and in the dead of night and it takes a lot of effort to root it out.
“We are doing everything that we have to do to ensure that the people of Barbados get and see results. I know you cannot wait and I can’t wait either but please be patient. The old people always say, ‘what don’t happen in a year, does happen in a day.’” said Marshall, adding that it had taken Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Keith Rowley four years to charge corrupt politicians from the previous administration.
Recently, the Government has been heavily criticized by the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) as well as President of the Democratic Labour Party Verla Depeiza and General Secretary Guyson Mayers for its failure to proclaim the Integrity in Public Life Bill, which has been languishing in parliament for nearly ten years.
As a mission critical issue in its manifesto, the BLP promised to proclaim the legislation within six months of being elected. The document also claimed that Ministers and board chairpersons would be held accountable for their actions and that politicians and key public officials would be required to disclose their assets and people found guilty of trying to bribe public officials would be penalized.
Marshall however dismissed DLP detractors as coming forward with “inconvenient truths”. He argued that former Prime Minister David Thompson promised the legislation would be passed within 100 days of being elected, but instead brought it to Parliament in 2010 and never proclaimed it.
“But after a year, they want to challenge us for not completing the work on our Integrity in Public Life Bill. They didn’t do it for ten years but want to demonize us after one year, because the painstaking work that we are doing is not yet completed. That is coming in June and we have also enacted legislation so that we are able to go after some of those people who are hiding their ill-gotten gains and some of them are people who had their faces on posters last election. I know you want to see their faces on other types of posters, but that time will come,” promised Marshall.
During her speech, Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressed the issue briefly and urged Barbadians to “cease and settle” as there was no magical solution which would bring corrupt politicians to justice.
“There are audits and information coming. There is no ‘abracadabra’. Have you ever seen the police prosecute anybody without a case? You have to build a case and you don’t build a case by people saying what they feel like at the side of the road. You have to investigate and build a case. I want this country to cease and settle and let us focus and stay the course, because we are doing great things,” Mottley added.