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May 3, 2017

A.G. Leads Implementation of UNCAC

Key stakeholder of the government, business sector, media and other agencies were in attendance of a training on the implementation review of the mechanism of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.  After pressure from the Belize National Teachers Union and the Belize Chamber of Commerce, the government signed on to the convention in December.  The workshop is being hosted by the United Nations Development Programme; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Attorney General’s Ministry.  Today’s event focused on the basic concepts of corruption. We spoke with the Attorney General and the U.N.D.P. representative about the UNCAC and what it means for Belize.

 

Karen Bernard

Karen Bernard, Deputy Rep., U.N.D.P. Belize

“The UNCAC is the vehicle; it is an instrument which has been established by the General Assembly of the United Nations which is global and which many, many countries in the world – I believe one hundred and eighty-four to this point – are participating. So, that is a very important vehicle that we can use to tackle this issue of corruption.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“When the government made the decision to ratify the UNCAC; I think Belizeans were very happy, but there is also the general perception that it is the panacea; the solve all to the corruption that we see; what would be one way for you to explain that it is simply a framework but we will have to change legislation and do other underlying work?”

 

Karen Bernard

“Well, as you said the UNCAC is a framework so this gives us some guidance to be effective in tackling corruption. Now it can be done with other framework but that is there to help us move forward and keep the momentum. So, I think it is of great value to Belize which is why it was something that came up at the request of members of the United Nations in 2003. So, it provides the framework and enables us to move forward but is not enough in itself to solve any problems, so really I think the fate of the country as we know depend on the people and the government that represents the people. And it depends on people interest and engagement in improving their country, bringing out the best of Belize.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte,

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General, Belize

“What happens is that the United Nations requires for the country to have a focal point; which means that one person who they will take that process through. And the Cabinet felt best that it would goes through the Attorney General Ministry, which in any event we would be the one to draft and to table the laws to be implemented- if any needs to be implemented. What we do is that we facilitate the process and we lead the process locally because the United Nations they would set the premise upon which we should operate; the workshop is part of the direction of which we must go. In June we go to Vienna us to select state parties that will assess us and monitor us along the way. And during that process then what we are doing then is called the self-assessment which is essentially just analyzing where we are for us to know how far we have to go to be UNCAC ready.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“Now, many people are naturally are naturally cynical on whether or not we can actually make efficient changes to be able to change what seems to be a systemic level of corruption in the country; what would you say to the Belizean public about your own optimistic view regarding the signing of the UNCAC and moving into this specific phase?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well, it will be up to all of us; not just the government which is why on the project board is not just government. We did not have to choose just social partners on the project board – it could have been just the government. But we decided to choose based on what is basically a reflection in the Senate. You have the church, opposition representative, N.G.O. and all of these parties represented. So, my belief is that with the broad representation on the board all these entities involved in the process; if we can’t change it, then we will never change it.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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