The Joseph Hibbert- Mayberry Johnson case demonstrates the usefulness of Contractor General Greg Christie’s proposal. In January 2009, the Contractor General announced that he had started investigations concerning allege corruption against Mr. Hibbert, after Britain ‘s Serious Fraud Office visited Jamaica to probe the allegation against Mr Hibbert.
In October, some nine months after, the OCG announced that it had concluded its special investigation into the allegations of corruption and irregularity and had sent copies to the police commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) “for such action as any or both of them may deem to be appropriate having regard to the evidence … found in the matter”.
Just last week, after another five more months had elapsed, the DPP reported that there is not sufficient evidence to proffer a prosecution against anyone and has sent the matter to the police for further investigation.
This case reveals serious deficiencies in the present anti-corruption efforts. There is definitely a need for greater levels of collaboration between the investigative and the prosecutorial functions. It is not fair either for Mr. Hibbert or other public officials, to have their case moving from agency to agency without a timely resolution.
Mr. Christie’s call for an independent corruption commission is therefore deserving of much consideration. Mr Christie proposed the merger of the Integrity Commission, the Corruption Prevention Commission and the Office of the Contractor General into a National Independent Anti-Corruption State Agency to investigate and prosecute corruption.
He proposed that the agency should be staffed with investigators and be buttressed by the establishment of a Special Corruption Court. The proposal of the Contractor General indicates the focus and integrated approach that is needed to fight corruption.
It is not beyond us to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of our anti-corruption efforts by merging the investigative and prosecutorial functions without undermining the constitutional authority of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. We could begin by looking at the Sierra Leone model.
It would have been better if the National Independent Anti-Corruption State Agency proposal had emerged out of consultation and collaboration between the Office of the Contractor General and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Nothing should be done to give the perception that there is fundamental personality or philosophical differences between Contractor General Greg Christie and Director of Public Prosecution, Paula Llewellyn.
This perception, real or imagined, is not good, because they both have a critical and collaborative role to play in the fight against corruption. Greg Christie and Paula Llewellyn represent all that is good about Jamaica.
Paula Llewellyn has brought new energy, professionalism and unprecedented openness to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution. Greg Christie’s passion, thoroughness, fearlessness and integrity are beyond question.
In the final analysis the fight against corruption is not about Greg versus Paula; it is about preserving the legitimacy and integrity of the Jamaican State. This demands collaboration among the stakeholders and the gatekeepers.