By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The OAS Mechanism for Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (MESICIC) visited Belize this week and met with the private sector.
Kay Menzies, president of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), confirmed to The Reporter that members from Belizean civil society, including Menzies herself, met with the commission at the Radisson on Wednesday morning.
According to Menzies the overall sentiment that civil shared with the MESICIC commission was that corruption in Belize is prevalent and it needs to be addressed because it is hindering economic development and growth.
The OAS commission, during its visit, is also scheduled to meet with Belizean oversight bodies and civil society during a visit coordinated by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Of note is that this OAS Commission, on its other visits, usually meets with the Integrity Commission, or a corresponding body, of each nation but Belize still doesn’t have a functioning Integrity Commission.
The appointment of the Integrity Commission has been stalled since January.
“I have been too busy really to have conducted any search for replacements of the Integrity Commission,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow said to the media earlier this year when he was asked for an update on the Integrity Commission.
The delegation visited the country as part of its mandate to consult with oversight bodies responsible for preventing, detecting and punishing corruption.
The commission gathers information from multiple oversight bodies to assess how these structures are functioning in accordance with the OAS Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (CAC). The results of the review will be included in the MESICIC report at their meeting in September.
The MESICIC group also visited Jamaica and Haiti in April before conducting its on-site visit in Belize.
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 Mechanism for the Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (MESCIC) to conduct on-site examinations of the mechanisms in place to fight corruption.