By Ingrid Fernandez
The Belize Progressive Party (BPP), on International Anti-Corruption Day December 9th, fulfilling a mandate of its campaign manifesto to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), made a symbolic signing of the Act in front of the Prime Minister’s Coney Drive office.
The event took place on the 12th commemoration of the UNCAC, which has been ratified by 177 countries, with Belize and Suriname being the only two in the Western hemisphere who haven’t done so.
BPP Campaign Manager Robert Lopez, Party Chairman Paco Smith and BPP Leader Patrick Rogers staged the symbolic signing in front of the Prime Minister’s office.
Although it was only symbolic, Lopez said , it shows how easy, “with the stroke of a pen”, Belize could show locally and internationally that the government is serious about fighting corruption.
Standing outside the Coney Drive office building, Smith signed the Act. He said: “A lot of times people will say that symbolism means nothing. But in fact, it carries considerable weight, especially when you look at the fact that some of our Caribbean countries and many of our Latin American neighbors have signed on to this Convention.
“We demonstrate that the political will exists here in Belize to do the right thing in relation to fighting the scourge of corruption.”
Smith went on to say the David Nanes Schnitzer fiasco has shown that Belize has graduated into a different level of corruption. “It shows that the present government does not take Belize’s image seriously,” he said.
Lopez and Smith called out to the PM to show political will and sign Belize on to the UNCAC.
Rogers said signing the convention would help Belize be objective in regard to the definition of corruption and not depend solely on subjective definitions of what constitutes corruption and criminality.
The standards for corruption would be stipulated in the Convention and Belize could abide by them, he explained. “Basically until Belize signs the Convention, we will have to accept what the PM says he doesn’t think is corruption and it’s not enough to get the man charged to go to jail,” Rogers said.
He added the Convention would establish an autonomous body to police corruption and protect whistleblowers, who he believes, presently exist but are muzzled for fear of consequences to exposing the government’s wrong doings.
Recently Belize has been implicated in two other illicit schemes, the blacklisting of Kremsont Inc., a shell company affiliated with ISIS associates, and as a tax haven in the Banner Broker pyramid scheme.