WASHINGTON, USA -- The committee of experts of the follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the Guyana report on the implementation of this treaty in the context of the fourth round of review of the mechanism, during its twenty-third meeting held last week at OAS headquarters.
The report focuses one of its most significant chapters on the examination of the oversight bodies in Guyana with the responsibility for the prevention, detection, punishment, and eradication of acts of corruption. In this regard, the report examines the Audit Office of Guyana, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Service Commissions, in particular the Public Service Commission and the Judicial Service Commission, and the National Procurement and Tender Administration. The progress made by Guyana in relation to the recommendations of the First Round of the MESICIC was also reviewed.
The examination was carried out taking into account Guyana’s response to a questionnaire, information gathered by the Technical Secretariat, and, as a new and important source of information, an on-site visit conducted October 8-10, 2013. This visit was carried out by a team comprising of Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a member of the MESICIC Technical Secretariat. During that visit, the review team met with representatives of government institutions, as well with civil society organizations on issues of relevance to the fight against corruption.
Among the recommendations for consideration by Guyana in relation to the above-mentioned bodies, the report advises to provide the Audit Office, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Judicial Service Commission and the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, with the financial and human resources necessary to fully perform their attributions and functions, within available resources.
Furthermore, it advises to consider establishing an articulated anti-corruption strategy, which could include the establishment of specialized anti-corruption units in the Guyana Police Force and in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Another recommendation of the report is to promote awareness campaigns to the general public on how they can help the Audit Office in its functions, especially those of its Forensic Audit Unit, related to the uncovering and deterrence of fraud and corruption in Guyana.
The report further suggests improving the Audit Office website, by advertising a specific hotline telephone number or a secure hotline complaint electronic form for those interested in presenting reports, complaints or allegations of fraud or corruption. Additionally, it recommends providing guidance on the website on how to present useful reports, complaints or allegations and on how interested persons can follow-up on its status.
The report also proposes to implement formal coordination mechanisms between the Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions in order to establish settled procedures or guidelines for directing investigations related to acts of corruption, so earlier collaboration can be carried out and legal advice provided before a charge is instituted.
With regard to the follow-up on the recommendations formulated to Guyana in the First Round of this Mechanism, the following are noted: the enactment of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2009 and of the Access to Information Act 2011, as well as the ratification of the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.
In addition, the report notes that some of the recommendations are still pending from the First Round, such as performing a comprehensive analysis on the causes for the persistent overpayment to contractors and to staff indicated in the Annual Reports of the Audit Office of Guyana, and taking the necessary action to address the issue, ensuring that there are systems in place to avoid the reoccurrence of overpayments, as well as to vigorously pursuing the recovery of the amounts overpaid.
During the twenty-third meeting of the MESICIC, similar reports were adopted for Canada, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.