- What is the Integrity Commission?
The Integrity Commission (The Commission) is a statutory body established under the Integrity in Public Office Act 2003. It is made up of seven persons, comprising a Chairman and six other members. Their appointment is for a period of three years.
- Why did Parliament pass the Integrity in Public Office Act 2003, No. 6 of 2003 (the Act)?
Parliament passed this Act in order to respond to public concerns about allegations of corruption in public office and to give legislative force to its desire to establish international norms of good governance and transparency as articulated in various international instruments including the UN Convention Against Corruption. Dominica is a party to this Convention. There was also consensus among various political interest groups in the country on the need for such legislation in Dominica.
The Act therefore seeks to establish probity, integrity and accountability of persons in public life by providing for an Integrity Commission where declarations of financial affairs of such persons are made, and complaints of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act are received, investigated and reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions where necessary.
- What are probity, integrity and accountability in public life?
Probity, integrity and accountability in public life are the standards that democratic society expects those elected or appointed to public office to observe and maintain in the conduct of the public affairs to which they have been entrusted. These standards are what safeguard the nation from corruption by politicians and public officials who have been given almost unrestricted access to public resources together with the power to take decisions that impact on the lives of everyone and on the nation as a whole.
- Who are not qualified to be members of the Commission?
The following categories of persons are not qualified to be members of the Commission.
A person who:
- is a person in public life or otherwise exercising a public function;
- would be disqualified to be a member of the House of Assembly: for example, a minister of religion, an undischarged bankrupt, and a certified insane person;
- has at any time during three years immediately preceding the date of his appointment, been a public officer; or
- has at any time during five years immediately preceding the date of appointment, held office in a political party.
- How are members selected to the Commission?
All members of the Commission are appointed by the President under section 4 of the Act.
The Chairman, who must be either a former judge of the High Court, an attorney-at-law of fifteen years standing at the Bar or a former Chief Magistrate, is appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, who is required to consult with the Leader of the Opposition before tendering his advice.
Two members appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Two members appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.
A chartered or certified accountant appointed on the recommendation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Dominica or like body however described.
An attorney-at-law appointed on the recommendation of the Dominica Bar Association.
The Act provides that persons appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition "shall be persons of high public standing and reputation for personal integrity".
- Why does the requirement that members appointed to the Commission be persons of 'high public standing and reputation for personal integrity' [Sec. 4(3) of the Act] not apply to all appointees to the Commission?
It is understood that the requirements of the Act of 'high public standing and reputation for personal integrity' apply to all persons nominated for membership on the Commission. Section 4(3) specifies this in the case of the persons nominated by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition since the nominees for Chairman, and those from the Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants are bound by codes of professional ethics. In the event of dispute, the judiciary is empowered to interpret laws and would be guided by principles of natural justice, common law and precedence in these matters.
- Why does the President require the advice of the Prime Minister for the appointment of the Chairman? Could he not have acted in his own deliberate judgment?
Parliament has so provided in the Act of 2003 and therefore the President must not act in his own deliberate judgment.
- To what extent should Commissioners be engaged in public debate on national issues?
Commissioners are not forbidden by their membership in the Commission from exercising their fundamental right of expression and association, and their democratic right to participate in public debate on national issues including comment on the policies and programmes of the Government of Dominica. Members of the Integrity Commission are aware that in exercising these rights, they shall always observe prudence and the proper degree of constraint having regard to the purpose of the Integrity in Public Office Act. Members are also aware of the secrecy and confidentiality requirements, the rules of natural justice and the jurisdiction of the Commission as an independent and impartial statutory authority with oversight duties over persons in public life including Members of the House of Assembly.
- What happens to members of the Commission who divulge confidential information?
The Act of 2003 makes the following provision:
"21. (1) Every member and every person performing any function in the service or as an employee of the Commission shall treat all declarations, or information relating to such declarations as secret and confidential and shall not disclose or communicate to any unauthorized person or allow any such person to have access to any such declarations or information.
(4) An unauthorized person who publishes information which comes to his knowledge under subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars or one year imprisonment or to both such fine and imprisonment."
- Can a member of the Commission be removed from office?
Once appointed, members of the Commission have security of tenure for three years and can be removed from office by the President for inability to discharge the functions of their offices or for misbehavior on the recommendation of an independent high level tribunal, after proper inquiry.
- Can a member of the public challenge an appointment to the Commission or can an appointment be revoked?
Yes. An appointment may be revoked by the President for the reasons stated at 1.10.