24 July, 2008


New Legislation to Promote Integrity Planned for Barbados. One of the major complaints against the new David Thompson administration in Barbados has been that, although it won power mainly by promising to do something about the entrenched corruption in the previous Owen Arthur administration, it had appeared to have forgotten the issue. Last month, Thompson announced a new initiative. We can only hope that it will result in major improvements in that West Indian territory.

Prime Minister Thompson has set up a Governance Advisory Board to make up for lost time. The Board consists of ministers of religion, lawyers, and university professors.

Among other matters, we learn that the Board is looking at a Freedom of Information Act. As we know from the previous post on this blog, this law is needed to make it possible for all citizens to access government-held information. Specific matters, like national security and some forms of personal data, are usually excluded from public access. There will be a Commissioner of Information who will make a determination where there are grey areas on what is allowable and what is not.

The Board is considering a new Defamation Act. The current Barbados legislation does not allow persons to freely express an opinion. If you voice an opinion, and it cannot be proved to be fact, even if you have no malice, you will be liable for any defamatory meaning. The reform proposed is to make a person expressing an opinion on a matter of public interest liable only if malice can be proved.

It will make recommendations on Integrity in Public Life legislation. It will require ministers of government and senior public servants to disclose their assets and private interests in an effort to demonstrate integrity. It will also look at persons outside of the public service. In negotiating contracts and dealing in public assets, there will be multiple parties involved. They all need to be looked at. We in Anguilla are demanding similar reform.

It will examine the role of the Ombudsman. In Anguilla, the United Front political party has promised this ever since their manifesto was published at the start of the campaign for the general elections in 2000. Nothing has happened since then.

The Barbados Governance Advisory Board is examining a proposed new Contractor General. Procurement has always been a soft spot for corruption in all of our islands. The complaints in Barbados have been long and earnest.

Recently retired Professor Albert Fiadjoe has been retained to draft the legislation. The Bills are promised to be ready by the year’s end.

Professor Fiadjoe is an eminent jurist. With him on board, there is hope for Barbados!

What about the rest of us?


  1. To many in Anguilla, ethics is a county in the south of England.

  2. The word we use in Anguilla is "integrity".


    Is that not the County in England where seats in the upper house were allegedly given in exchange for political loans? OR is that County called Hypocrisy, which is the neighbouring county of Sleaze?


    It should be noted that the worst sleaze occurred in England AFTER the labour government brought in legislation to stop it!

  4. That is like complaining that Basdeo Panday only got arrested for not declaring a bank account in England in his wife’s name after he introduced the law making it illegal. Sleaze and corruption is not criminal until a law makes it so.

  5. As a Barbadian, I was highly offended by the statement that there was "entrenched corruption in the previous Owen Arthur administration". Not only is it without merit, but is highly inflammatory and irresponsible. My country has long had an excellent reputation in the international arena for good governane, a dedicated and committed civil service and sound leadership, irrespective of which political party was in power. Furthermore according to Transpareny International, "the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption", Barbados ranks fourth in this hemishphere behind Canada, the United States and Chile and is top ranking Caribbean country. One must not confuse the heated exchanges of a hard fought political campaign, where political parties are attempting to win office, with the realities on the ground.

  6. Re: the article and especially the last post, I am an Anguillian (so have no interest in the local politics in Barbados) and observed live on television there when the current head of the opposition party there attempted to upstage the new government and criticized it for not delivering on its promise to implement new integrity legislation and declared her assets, and was followed by the former Prime Minister. The current govt did not even try to disguise its attempts to backpedal but said that the experience in Trinidad had shown that it wasnt so easy. (there, people of means and integrity are refusing to serve on public boards etc because of what the legislation requires them to disclose). I wonder if it really ever is - or how useful it will be, according to one of the submissions made to the Foreign Affairs Committee referred to elsewhere in this blog the current Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands declared assets of
    US$40,000 as a candidate for elections and 4 years later built a mansion costing over US$6 million. We need honest men and women to serve or all will be in vain. But I do agree that we need integrity legislation and whatever else we can get to keep honest men and women honest.

  7. Why should I be reluctant to disclose what my assets are? I don't own anything I'm ashamed of. What a strange reaction!


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