Changes to the Anti-Corruption Commission Law, approved by the Legislative Assembly on Monday, remove public officers from the commission’s board and give the commission its own police force.
The Anti-Corruption Commission will now consist of five people appointed by the governor, and will no longer include the police commissioner, complaints commissioner and auditor general.
The changes, approved unanimously by members of the Legislative Assembly on the second reading, will “further enhance the independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission,” said Attorney General Sam Bulgin.
Mr. Bulgin told legislators, “The law will allow the Anti-Corruption Commission to call in the expertise of the commissioner of police or the auditor general,” but does not give the public officers a vote on the board.
The changes also shortened commissioners’ terms from five years to three. Mr. Bulgin called the five-year commitment “onerous” for commission members.
The commission would take complaints of corruption and investigate allegations against public officials. Created in 2010, the commission, until now, has had two members appointed by the governor serving alongside the three public officers, with the police commissioner as chairman.
The attorney general said the vision for the new commission is to tap retired judges, police officers, accountants, attorneys, justices of the peace and other “suitable” candidates. The members and the chairman will be appointed by the governor.
The amendments also change how the commission investigates corruption allegations. Since its inception, the commission has used investigators from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. The changes give the commission its own investigators with the power to look into allegations and make arrests.
Anti-corruption investigators can still ask the police for help with investigations, and the RCIPS will be responsible for holding suspects in custody.
“Officers will be independent of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service,” Mr. Bulgin said.
The changes also broaden the definition of who is subject to the law, to include volunteers or those working for government without pay. The law includes people who do “any activity carried out for a government entity,” Mr. Bulgin said.
The commission came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that it had not met since February 2015. The commission finally met again in February this year.
The membership has been in flux since Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams left in January 2015 and the two appointed members left a month later. Former Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick left his position in July, leaving acting heads in the Complaints Commission and the Auditor General’s Office. Police Commissioner David Baines recently announced his upcoming departure from the RCIPS, meaning all three spots will be vacant.