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Senate approves new chair of Integrity Commission

Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2018. 1:31 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Senate met on Thursday morning in Belmopan and approved attorney Deshawn Arzu-Torres as the new chairperson of the Integrity Commission, which had been non-functional since last December when former chairperson, Marilyn Williams was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Arzu-Torres, in accordance with the Prevention of Corruption Act, which establishes and outlines the role and composition of the Integrity Commission, is a practicing attorney with more than five years experience, however, her appointment caused some debate in the upper house.

NGO Senator Osmany Salas congratulated the government on making the appointment after months and requested that Arzu-Torres be made available to the Senate for an interview, however, that request was flatly denied. Instead, government senators assured that Arzu-Torres did not need to be interviewed because her assumption of the post was done through appointment on the authority of the Prime Minister and not subject to a hiring process.

Government Senator Herbert Panton also assured that Arzu-Torres was high moral character and integrity and said he could vouch for her because she is one of his personal friends.

The Integrity Commission, prior to Williams’ appointment to that post, had been defunct for many years and even when it had been functional, it had never been comprised according to the provision in the Prevention of Corruption Act. Critics had lobbied the government for many years to install an Integrity Commission and ensure that it performed its mandate, ensuring that publicly elected officials followed the laws with regard to making annual financial disclosures and investigating instances of corruption in public life.

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