As you will recall, the Prime Minister spoke to the media on Friday about the Integrity Commission saying that he is convinced that the law prevents them from going back 5 years
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: The Integrity Commission wrote us after it was constituted to say you got to go back 5 years, now I will tell you, straight off, When I have never, once there has been an Integrity Commission been even late in filing my declaration, in fact I have been, as brother Boots says it, as honest as I can to the extent where I keep saying there was that Amandala caption Barrow Five Times Richer than Musa, no man it is that Barrow is Five times more honest than Musa in terms of his statement about his assets. I don’t have a problem in the normal course going back as far as they would like, except practically speaking there would have been difficulties; but I am convinced that as a matter of law they had no authority to require that retrospective filing. I was not the only one; I am telling you that there were people on the other side, on Mr. Briceño’s side, who felt the same way; and – I don’t know if formally or informally – indicated to the Commission, ‘we are not going to comply, because you don’t have the law on your side.’ The commission reconsidered the matter – I believe [they] sought legal advice – and concluded that indeed, they could not go back, they could not have jurisdiction, over a time when they were not in office, they were not Commissioners, and that is all that it is.
The Prime Minister told the media that even the PUP agrees with this; however, on May 15, the PUP issued a release saying quite the contrary. That release said that “the PUP disagrees strongly with that skewed legal opinion supported by Mr Barrow, because a decision by a Commission cannot supersede or trump the laws of Belize as clearly stated in the Prevention of Corruption Act.” Today, COLA also weighed in on the Prime Minister’s view of the Integrity Commission in a press release by saying
“There should be no wrangle over how far back accounts are to be submitted, because according to the Prevention of Corruption Act, those accounts were to have been submitted annually even if there was no Integrity Commission appointed to view them.”
Plusnews spoke to the President of COLA, Geovanni Brackett who further commented on the issue
Geovannie Brachett, President COLA: We COLA, believe that the government is in its third term, and it’s a shame that they have members of the house who have not reported their assets. We believe that it shouldn’t have been just five years; it should have been the last 9 or 10 years they have been in power. We believe, we support the position taken by the teacher’s union that we never elected the government to give us a sham in this integrity commission, and there’s enough reasons and allegations of corruption that warrants an adequate report on the true assets of our Prime Minister and other elected officials within government, both opposition and government. We condemn any changes to the law. We believe that the Prime Minister, when it is appropriate for him and convenient for him, he pushes things through such as the NGL deal and other deals; but when it comes to maintaining integrity and justice within the country, he’s a bit slow. So we condemn the act on the attempt by the Prime Minister to change the law.