Late last year Belize signed onto the United Nations Convention against Corruption, UNCAC, and as of January this year, government started to put together the project board and other systems to work towards the implementation of the UNCAC. What follows the accession to the UNCAC is a self assessment which Belize has started and in February the UN approved the project “Strengthening National Systems for UNCAC Implementation in Belize”. Today the Attorney General’s Ministry started a two day training on the implementation review mechanism of the UNCAC for the country. Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte told us more.
“The assessment looks at everything. Do we have the proper laws in place to ensure that we can tackle corruption and even if we do have the laws in place, what are we doing to implement those laws, are our vehicles of implementation weak or are our laws weak; just that alone is a monster to take on but as well we are looking at everything, our attitudes towards corruption, whether or not we want to tackle it or we just talk about it so that is what all of this is about. The government is fully committed to it but at the same time other people have to be fully committed to it as well. We cannot just be a part of it or just talk about it but we have to join in and participate so I’m hoping that all of the people who are on the project board and eve those who are not play a critical role in battling corruption in Belize, I hope that they give their full-fledged participation and I was heartened this morning that we were widely and highly represented from practically every sector of society and I am heartened by that and that it continues and that we continue to do the good work that we have started to do.”
The UNCAC self assessment is critical to the success of the project. The Attorney General’s Ministry points out that strengthening the national systems for the UNCAC implementation, lays the foundation to ensure that the country’s approach will contribute effectively to reducing corruption. And, according to the Attorney General, this does not only speak to corruption at a government level.
“Corruption affects us all it’s not just the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in government it’s against corruption period and it came up this morning that the corruption can extend to private enterprises as well as public enterprise so it’s not limited to just government it’s wherever it occurs. That is why we involve the churches, the private sector because it doesn’t just involve government. The government, somebody has to take responsibility and be the head of the process here in Belize. The attorney general’s ministry is the focal point which makes me the focal point so I am responsible for what happens in Belize as far as the process is concerned but it is not just left to the government.”
“Can you say that whether Belize will follow through with the entire process and what are the recommendations that are outlined in the future to better monitor the country in terms of corruption will be followed and will be honored.”
“Of course we will, we did not sign up to it to not do it, we signed up to it and the energy and the work that we are putting into this one project signifies that we are putting all that we have into it. We are not playing around or messing around with it, we did not sign up to it as a gimmick we signed up to do it and we are doing it.”
The two day training this week is seeing the participation of technical experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC. Cristina Ritter, a legal expert on the Anti Corruption Team of the UNODC is providomg training on the basic anti-corruption concepts, the implementation review mechanism and the UNCAC self assessment mechanism. She says that the self assessment is the first step in the review mechanism and is followed by a desk review by the UNODC. She told us more about the process.
Representing the United Nations Development Program and also co-facilitating the training is Karen Bernard, Deputy Resident Representative.
Representatives of the private sector and civil society are taking part in the training.