Assembly unanimously approves amendments to increase powers of Ant-Corruption Commission |25 July 2019
Members of both sides in the National Assembly yesterday debated on and approved several amendments to the Anti Corruption Act, 2016.
When he presented the amendments through a Bill, the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, stated that they have been proposed following a recommendation by the Anti-Corruption Commission and discussions that followed.
The amendments aimed to reinforce the commission by increasing its powers to deal with corruption related offences.
The Bill seeks to amend;
- Sections 10(5) to increase the number of commissioners who shall constitute a quorum at any meeting of the Commission from two to four commissioners. This amendment is necessary following the increase in the number of commissioners from three to five.
- Sections 22 and 52 to better clarify and define the role and powers of the Commission and that of the chief executive officer so as to remove any existing ambiguity in their powers and functions.
The Bill is also seeking to introduce two new sections that the Commission recommended namely;
- Section 51A to explicitly give the Commission the powers to investigate or take over and continue the investigation of offences provided for under Chapter X (Corruption and the Abuse of Office) and Chapter XXXVIII (Secret Commission and Corruptive Practices) of the Penal Code (Cap.158)
- Section 52A to make provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap.54), the Police Force Act (Cap. 172) and any other law conferring on the police the rights, powers, authorities, privileges and immunities necessary for the detection, prevention and investigation of offences applicable to the chief executive officer and any officer authorised under Section 22(2) (a) or 52(8) in the investigation of offences and the performance of their duties under this Act.
Debate on the merit and general principle of the Bill was intense and all the MNAs from both sides who intervened agreed that corruption is a reality in our country and people are helpless faced with different practices that could be classified as corrupt and there is a need to bring them to the attention of the competent authority but for the moment the latter does not have the ability and powers to effectively and quickly deal with such practices. They also agree that as the situation is at present it is difficult for the Commission to prosecute corruption cases as it does not have sufficient authority and powers to take action.
“There are lots of cases before the Commission and on which the public is waiting to see progress but none is forthcoming,” said LDS member Gervais Henrie.
He went on to stress that corruption threatens democracy and sustainable development of a society making people who depend on State institutions vulnerable as corruption slows development.
“We need to act to improve Seychelles’ ranking on the international corruption index,” said LDS member Clifford Andre, a point which United Seychelles member Waven William strongly supported.
For the leader of government business Charles de Commarmond he agreed with the different other propositions that other MNAs before him had proposed on top of what the Bill is proposing to further strengthen the effectiveness of the Commission by giving it additional powers.
He added that at present the Commission is not performing as it should and nobody is happy with the current situation and we need to see with the Commission why there is no progress on pending cases.
“Our people want to see the Commission operate effectively and the amendments being proposed will allow this to happen,” Mr de Commarmond stated.
In his right of reply Minister Loustau-Lalanne added that the amendments proposed are but the first in a series of others to come.
He went on to add that the government fully supports the Anti-Corruption Commission and is fully aware of its shortcoming but is ready to support it.
Members of both sides of the House voted unanimously on the merit and general principle of the Bill before going into committee stage to discuss further other amendments proposed by members from both sides to strengthen the effectiveness and powers of the ACCS. The other proposed amendments were also approved unanimously.