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Integrity Commissioners sworn into office…

president-carmona1Retired Justice Sebastian Ventour, Seunarine Jokhoo, Deonarine Jaggernauth and Dr. Shelly-Anne Lalchan have been sworn in as the newest members of the Integrity Commission.

Retired Justice Ventour, who had a distinguished 34-year legal career, and currently lectures at the Hugh Wooding Law School, will serve as Deputy Chairman of the Commission.

The President said in the past several weeks and months, he has interviewed scores of citizens and has consulted the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and today he was happy to be in a position to administer the oath of office to the four new members.The oath of office to the four new members of the commission was administered by President Anthony Carmona at a ceremony at President’s House Tuesday morning.

The President said in our Westminster form of governance, one cannot understate the importance of independent commissions as institutions undergirding our democracy.

He said these apolitical bodies have been established in order to provide checks to the exercise of executive power within our state and to thereby promote transparency, accountability and the general observance of democratic principles and values.

The President quoted Section 5 (2) (a) of the Integrity in Public Life Act,

“In the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, the Commission –

(a) shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority;”

It is therefore noteworthy that while appointed by the President, the members of Independent Commissions are not “the President’s men and women”. Their independence is sacrosanct.

At this point I would like to express my gratitude and that of the nation to these four new members for making themselves available to serve in public office, especially at a time when many qualified citizens pay lip service to nationhood and to the spirit and dictates of the Constitution and the law”.

Mr. Carmona said all new members were comprehensively vetted by the Special Branch and they have advised (him) the President that “there is neither criminal nor adverse security information against any of the appointees.” They are therefore, in keeping with Section 4 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, deemed to be “persons of integrity and high standing”.

Present a t the swearing in ceremony was Speaker of the House, Wade Mark, Leader of the Opposition, Keith Rowley, and Integrity Commission Chairman, Kenneth Gordon.

Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, could not attend as she is attending the International Labour Organisation meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre.

Chief Justice, Ivor Archie was also absent. He is said to be engaged in a major appeal involving counsel from abroad.