Whistleblower legislation necessary to tackle corruption – Ramjattan
The leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, is optimistic that by early 2013, a Bill will be presented to Parliament in support of laws promoting whistleblower legislation. This, he said, is part of his party’s legislative agenda and one of the important matters his party intends to address.
Whistleblower legislation is set to protect a person who informs the public or those in authority about dishonest or illegal activities /misconduct occurring in a government department or private company or organization. That misconduct may be violation of laws, regulations, direct threat to public interest; fraud and corruption.
This legislation, Ramjattan said, will however have to be tabled in the form of a “private members Bill” since the ruling Administration is refusing to assist in the drafting of the whistleblower legislation. The “private members” Bill is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature who is not acting on behalf of the government.
Since Bills are proposed by the government, Ramjattan noted that the government’s assistance would have been relevant in putting the measure in place. He added, “We are now on our own in relation to finding the precedent legislation in the Commonwealth.”
Ramjattan said, “I had indicated as part of the legislative agenda for the Alliance for Change that we would like to get the government to help with the drafting of the legislation but the government does not want to give us any assistance in this regard.”
The AFC leader noted that he had received the Commonwealth legislation in relation to whistleblower laws, but extra effort is needed to make the legislation more particular to Guyana. He added that he is further tasked with ensuring that the measure does not breach any other law, clash with existing legislation or violate the constitution.
Ramjattan fired that the Government’s failure to act on corruption has a “damning effect.” He noted that the Administration’s slothfulness in bringing corrupt individuals to justice can worsen the existing corrupt state of affairs, while saying to those corrupt persons that they are immune to investigations and prosecution.
“Government’s failure to act on corruption has a consequence that can worsen the state of affairs in Guyana. People who are corrupt will feel immunized against investigation and prosecution, and those who are of the view that they ought to say something will become silenced and stifled into not saying anything when they see persons doing wrong.”
Ramjattan attributed his comment to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) officer who was sent on leave after exposing alleged corrupt practices at that entity.
The current legislation, Ramjattan posited, “Is not perfect but what we have are the laws not being enforced. There are many charges that can be instituted against corrupt practitioners in our land by the existing regime of laws, but the government does not because favourites, family and friends are there.” (Zena Henry)