General News of Saturday, 23 December 2017
Former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short has said the Commission has not taken seriously its role in the fight against corruption.
He said although the Commission’s mandate seems broader than it can handle, a lot more can be done if priorities are set right in terms of fighting corruption.
Speaking on Joy News’ news analysis programme, Newsfile, the former Commissioner said he is unhappy with how the Commission has discharged its duties.
For him, to investigate corruption, the Commission does not need a complaint.
A simple report in the media, he believes, should set it rolling, unfortunately, this has not been done since he left office.
“What I am not happy about is that CHRAJ has the mandate to investigate allegations of corruption without a complaint. So far as allegations of corruption are concerned CHRAJ can investigate on its own initiative, it is spelt out in the constitution.
“So under that mandate of investigation, I don’t think CHRAJ has done well in that respect, it has not been proactive. It has taken a back seat when it comes to corruption and that has happened until now” he said.
Although Mr Short acknowledges that the Commission has challenges with human and financial resources, including the low morale among staff, the resignation of many others, he is confident that the institution can do more than it is currently doing.
You can always use insufficient resources as an excuse for not being able to do the things you could do, he said.
He added that “It is a question of the judicious use of limited resources. Every institution has this problem.”
Citing the many successes, the Commission chalked when he was head, he said he and his assistant – Anna Bossman – faced similar challenges but made the most of it without any excuses.
“We started off in 1994 – 1995 by investigating ministers and we didn’t need anybody to complain before we did that and we had investigators going round the country doing our investigations to get the necessary evidence to be able to substantiate our findings.
“So in terms of role, there are several problems, the mandate is too broad, but also I think that CHRAJ has not taken the anti-corruption mandate, especially the investigation aspect as seriously as it could,” he added.
Justice Short is also advocating for the hiving off of the corruption mandate of the Commission.
He wants an independent anti-corruption commission established as has been done in other countries with sufficient staff, lawyers, accountants and other staff who can focus solely on corruption.