A Bill providing for the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor as a department of Government was passed in the Senate on Friday, January 14.
Minister of Justice and Leader of Government Business, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, who piloted the Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act, informed that the department will be responsible for the investigation and prosecution of corrupt offences.
She stated that the Bill has been before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament since 2008.
“Several initiatives have been taken over the years to combat corruption and eradication of corruption has to be a priority if we are to maintain public confidence and one of the most important areas in combating corruption is to combat the illicit acquisition of personal wealth,” Senator Lightbourne said.
She told the House that the Bill will pull together various other pieces of legislation that also fight corruption, so it will repeal the present Corruption Prevention Act and the Parliament Integrity of Members Act, which will fall under the new Act.
She also stated that the Bill covers the categories of corruption that are currently stated in United Nations Convention and the types of conduct that will constitute corrupt conduct. It also makes provision for the type of person that is to be appointed to the post as Special Prosecutor as well as the functions of the office.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) functions will not be affected by this Act. In effect the Special Prosecutor will still be under the direction of the DPP,” Senator Lightbourne said.
In his remarks, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator A.J. Nicholson, stated that the Opposition was “most anxious to support the Bill for …it is meant to be a corruption prevention measure with the special prosecutor as a conduit.”
“We have to foster and drive the recognition that there has to be a collective assault. This Bill is providing a bridge head in the form of a Special Prosecutor and the fight is now to be established. There are essential requirements to be put in place and the necessary tools provided for the proper administration of that regime,” Senator Nicholson said.
He also noted that there was a need for regulations to be created that would buttress the Act. The Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act was passed with 49 amendments.