- What are the functions of the Commission?
The functions of the Commission are to:
- receive, retain and examine all declarations filed with it (as outlined in 4.1);
- make such enquiries as it considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of any declaration filed with it;
- inquire into any allegation of bribery or act of corruption under the Act;
- receive and investigate complaints (as outlined in 6.1) regarding non-compliance with provisions of the Act; and
- perform such other function as is required under the Act;
- What are the powers of the Commission?
The Commission has the powers, rights and privileges of the Supreme Court at a trial to enforce the attendance of witnesses, examine them on oath, compel the production of documents, issue requests to witnesses abroad, and it also has certain powers available under the Commissions of Inquiry Act. These powers are spelt out in sections 11 and 24 of the Act and are exercisable in the context of a formal inquiry pursuant to section 23, 33 or 47(2) of the Act.
- How is the role of Ombudsman similar to that of the Commission, and does the Commission assume that role?
The jurisdiction of the Commission is broader in scope than that of the Ombudsman.
The jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is limited to "fault in administration" or "maladministration". The position of Ombudsman is referred to in our constitution as Parliamentary Commissioner. "The principal function of the arliamentary Commissioner shall be to investigate any decision or recommendation made, including any advice given or recommendation made to a Minister, or any act done or omitted by any department of Government or any authority which this section applies, or by officers or members of such a Department or authority, being action taken in exercise of the administrative functions of that department or authority".
The Commission may not assume the role of the Ombudsman.
- Is the Commission under the control of Government?
No. Under section 13 of the Act, the Commission in the exercise of its functions shall not be under the control or direction of any person or authority.
- Can Government have control of the Commission, considering the Prime Minister nominates three persons (the Chairman and two other persons) for appointment?
No. The Prime Minister nominates only three members of the Commission from among seven. In addition it must be stressed that Commissioners are independent irrespective of the authority which nominates them. This means that they are not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority including the person on whose recommendation that Commissioner was appointed.
- Since the Act was passed in 2003 and came into force in 2008, could it have been used to address any breaches that might have occurred between 2003 and 2008?
Due to constitutional reasons, a person cannot be found guilty of a crime under the Act in respect of conduct or actions performed prior to the Act coming into effect, which were not crimes known to the laws of Dominica prior to the Act coming into effect. As a result, criminal proceedings cannot be brought under the relevant sections of the Act in respect of conduct which occurred prior to the date the Act became effective.
- Is the Commission required to make any report of its activities?
The Commission is required to make an annual report of its activities to the Minister for Legal Affairs and this report must be tabled in Parliament. The report must not disclose the particulars of any declaration filed with the Commission.
- What happens when the Commission's report is tabled in Parliament?
After the report has been tabled it becomes a public document and the Commission disseminates it for public information. The report may be the subject of questions or debate in Parliament.
- Are decisions of the Commission subject to judicial review?
The Commission is an independent governance institution subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court in accordance with the procedures in the Civil Procedure Rules, 2010.
- Can the Commission investigate on its own volition?
No. The Act does not provide for the Commission to investigate on its own volition. The Commission may however make inquiries in relation to a declaration, allegation of bribery or act of corruption, or on a complaint made to it by a person. The Commission may however conduct investigations and hold inquiries into the source of income of a person where he is suspected to be in possession of property or resources disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income.
- Does the Commission have the investigative capacity to fulfill its mandate and to substantiate claims made on declarations?
The Commission may request assistance from the Commissioner of Police in connection with the performance of its functions and section 53 of the Act obliges the Commissioner to provide such assistance.
The Commission may also engage qualified persons on short term contracts to assist in the performance of its functions as set out in 2.1 above.