The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has written to Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade asking her to remove female attorney-at-law, Anande Trotman-Joseph as a member of the Integrity Commission.
THE NEW TODAY has obtained the copy of a letter dated March 17 that was sent to Dame Cecile by the new Political Leader of Congress, former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke.
The party, which is not represented in the elected House of Representatives, has cited conflict of interest as its main reason for the attorney to cease being a member of the Integrity Commission.
The NDC alluded to the fact that as a member of the State-appointed body, Trotman-Joseph might be called at some stage to look into the affairs of her husband, Lawrence Joseph, in his capacity as President of the Senate.
“…there is no doubt in the minds of the NDC leadership and many members of the public at large that because her husband is the sitting President of the Senate, Mrs.Trotman-Joseph ought not to continue as a member of the Integrity Commission”, Burke said in the letter.
Following is the full text of the letter:
Dame Cecile E.F. La Grenade
Ofice of the Governor General
May it please Your Excellency
Re: Maintaining the Integrity of the Integrity Commission
I am constrained, as leader of one of two main political parties in Grenada, to bring to your attention the concern of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and indeed of many Grenadians, over Mrs. A. Anande Trotman-Joseph’s continued membership on the Integrity Commission (hereinafter referred to as “the Commission”).
As you are no doubt aware, the Integrity in Public Life Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) was first passed into law in 2007 to directly address the many problems Grenada faced in the years immediately preceding. The problems centered on repeated allegations of wrong doing and outright misbehaviour of several persons in public life, particularly Members of Parliament.
The Act also seeks to conform to the provisions of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and adhere to international best practices relative to integrity in public life.
The Act clearly sets out the functions of the Commission to include, inter alia, receiving and examining declarations of assets, liabilities and interests filed by persons subject to the Act. The Commission is also empowered to investigate complaints of any alleged breaches of the Act or of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Persons subject to the Act and filing declarations thereunder must also declare the assets, interests and liabilities of their minor children and spouse.
The President of the Senate, being expressly subject to the Act and to the Prevention of Corruption Act, which is also administered by the Commission, must therefore declare the assets, liabilities and interests of his wife, Mrs. A. Anande Trotman-Joseph, herself a member of the Commission.
It means Your excellency, that Mrs. Trotman-Joseph’s assets, liabilities and interests are being declared to herself and are subject to scrutiny, examination and possible investigation by herself. Added to that, in the event that the President of the Senate is to be investigated by the Commission, he will, in effect, be investigated by his wife. This of course, is a wholly untenable situation.
Part II of the Sixth Schedule to the Act addresses Conflicts of Interest. The provisions therein speak unambiguously to such conflict arising where persons in public life, such as the President of the Senate and his wife, have a private interest which can influence or “appear to influence” the impartial and objective performance of their duties.
In those circumstances, the Act is unmistakably intended to operate so as to avoid, not only situations of actutal conflict of interest but also those of potential conflict of interest.
We know for a fact that Mrs.Trotman Joseph and her husband operate the business of a law firm together. While I have absolutely no reason to question the integrity or conduct of the President of the Senate or Mrs. Trotman-Joseph, it is quite conceivable that, if left in that office, Mrs. Trotman-Joseph many be called upon to investigate, in effect, her own dealings.
Your excellency, it can hardly be disputed that the many allegations of corruption in public life over the years have severely hurt our country’s image and reputation. Any efforts on our part to repair that image and reputation must not only be genuine, meaningful and substantial but must be seen to be so. Any other approach attracts the risk of dragging our country’s name into further disrepute.
Given the definition of Conflict of Interest in Part II of the Sixth Schedule to the Act, there is no doubt in the minds of the NDC leadership and many members of the public at large that because her husband is the sitting President of the Senate, Mrs.Trotman-Joseph ought not to continue as a member of the Integrity Commission.
We are of the strong view that she must follow the lead of Mrs. Michelle Emmanuel-Steele, whom we understand resigned from the Integrity Commission when her husband was elected to the Parliament.
In the premises, I strongly urge Your excellency to use your good offices to procure the resignation of Mrs.Trotman-Joseph as a member of the Commission. It would be remiss of me to do otherwise.
The people of Grenada and I pray your swift intervention in this matter on account of the foregoing.
Please allow me to respectfully advise that given the weight of this matter and the public interest surrounding it, I shall be constrained to share the contents of this letter with the Grenadian public should no indication be received from you within a reasonable time.
I remain Respectfully,
V. Nazim Burke