Haiti takes tough law to crack down on corruption

PR Newswire

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 9, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 9, 2014/PRNewswire/ — (HCNN) — Haiti’s President,Michel Martelly, has signed into law a bill to crack down on corruption by increasing jail time, multiplying fines for perpetrators and protecting whistleblowers, as the Caribbean country seems resolved to fight the plague.

President Martelly, who promulgated the new law on May 7, said the judicial and administrative authorities, tasked with curbing corruption, no longer have a pretext not to act.  “Through this act, I want everyone to know there is a heavy price to pay if you get involved with corruption and all those charged with curbing this plague, have to act indiscriminately against wrongdoers,” Martelly told HCNN on Friday.  “My administration wants to mark a new era in the way government officials, public servants and other relevant actors manage public funds and handle responsibilities,” Martelly said. “My hope is that from now on nothing is as before,” he added.

The new law, the first of its kind in Haitian history specifically aimed at preventing and cracking down on corruption in its broad aspect, provides that those convicted will spend 3 to 15 years in prison, compared to a previously incurred sentence of 1 to 3 years in jail.  The infringements include illicit enrichment, laundering of money obtained through corruption, misappropriation of public funds, overbilling, influence peddling, the granting of bribes to obtain procurement and public services, nepotism, illicit commissions and insider trading.

Besides prison time, wrongdoers and their accomplices will have to restitute the amount illegally obtained and will be fined triple the amount restituted. Whistleblowers are protected, while a more specific bill, to further protect them, is in process.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who had been actively pushing Parliament to pass the bill, called the new legislation a turning point in the fight against corruption.  “This is a turning point in the challenging fight against corruption that President Martelly and myself are committed to lead in Haiti,” Lamothe told HCNN. “We want State funds to fully be used for the benefit of the collectivity, and particularly the most vulnerable,” said Lamothe.

The Special Coordinator for Haiti at the US State Department, Thomas C. Adams, recognized last year that the Martelly/Lamothe government “has done more efforts to fight corruption than any of its predecessors.”

Joseph Guyler C. Delva   Guy.delva@hcnn.ht 509.3445.3535

SOURCE Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN)

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