By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
Belize is one of six countries to receive recommendations on anti-corruption matters from the Organization of American States (OAS) at the 24th Committee of Experts meeting in Washington D.C. this week.
The conference, which started on Monday, was the latest meeting of the Mechanism for the Follow-Up on the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).
According to the OAS, Belize along with Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname were given concrete recommendations to enhance their anti-corruption bodies.
The outcome of the meeting, as well as the reports adopted by the Committee of Experts for Belize will be available at the conclusion of the weeklong session.
“Important issues, such as the prevention of conflicts of interest, the obligation for public officials to report acts of corruption and for companies to establish internal controls to prevent bribery at the national and international levels, the participation of civil society and access to public information, the criminalization of acts of corruption, and the structure and functioning of oversight bodies responsible for the detection, investigation, prosecution and sanction of acts were analyzed,” OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said on Monday.
In April, the MESICIC visited Belize and met with members of civil society including representatives from the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and oversight officials including Auditor General Dorothy Bradley. The delegation visited the country as part of its mandate to consult with oversight bodies responsible for preventing, detecting and punishing corruption.
The commission gathered information from multiple oversight bodies to assess how these structures are functioning in accordance with the OAS Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (CAC).
To date thirty-one member nations of the OAS have signed and ratified the IACAC, introduced and adopted by the OAS in 1996. The convention aims at eradicating the prevalent instances of corruption in the American States, including Belize.
Belize ratified the IACAC on August 2nd 2002 and submitted its instrument of ratification, the Belize Prevention of Corruption Act, 2007 to the OAS on September 6th, 2002. In addition Belize signed the Declaration on the Mechanism for Follow-up, which allows the MESICIC to conduct on-site examinations of the mechanisms in place to fight corruption.