THE EDITOR: The Integrity in Public Life Act 2000 is, in my opinion, an amusing piece of legislation. Amusing because it is largely toothless, and, even more amusing, wholly unenforced.
Year after year we see published names of those who do not comply with filing the required declarations. To state it bluntly, this is an openly published list of people who have no shame. The requirement to file a declaration is described as a “duty to declare” under the act. Duty yes. Enforceable? Well, yes and no.
The act has two enforcement options: the first is the aforementioned public shaming, and second, Part III, Section 11 (7) permits the Integrity Commission to make an ex parte (the offending party need not be present) application for a court order to compel compliance. Never has the second option been exercised as far as I am aware.
There is a certain irony in that the act can be and was used as a political weapon. Remember Basdeo Panday remains the only person charged under the act in the last 19 years. This too despite many of those who are constantly named year after year and have repeatedly failed to file, in some cases going back nearly ten years.
The onus lies on the commission to do the right thing, follow the law as it lies and enforce the act as written. But with the commission itself lacking the will to practise integrity, things fall apart, to quote Chinua Achebe.