Complaints Commission Says Restrictions Defeat Their Ability to Deliver Mandate

(Release) The Montserrat Complaints Commission recently concluded an Outreach Initiative designed to sensitize the public in relation to the role of the Complaints Commission and to promote collaboration between the Commission and other agencies of government. The three-member Commission is chaired by attorney-at-law, George Kirnon and includes Commissioners Julian Daniel and Leslie Sweeney.

Meetings were held with the Premier and other members of the Cabinet, Permanent Secretaries, the Public Service Commission, Internal Audit, the Civil Service Association, and other stakeholders.

Stakeholders were informed that the establishment of a body with the power to resolve human rights complaints and complaints of maladministration within the Government of Montserrat represented a constitutional advancement, made possible by the new Constitution of 2010. The investigative powers of the Commission promoted good governance through increased accountability and transparency in public affairs. It was therefore important for all agencies of the government as well as the public to be fully aware of its role and functions, particularly its investigating and reporting functions which are required to be exercised independently, and free from external control and/or interference.

The Commission’s respective interactions with the Public Service Commission and Internal Audit established that the functions of these bodies are complementary to those of the Commission, without overlap or conflict, and with avenues for future collaboration.

The Commission however noted that the restriction in the Commission’s authority in relation to acts of maladministration and breaches of human rights in respect of appointments, transfers, pay, pension, and other personnel matters, permitted acts of maladministration and breaches of human rights to be practiced at all levels of the public service without an avenue for complaints to be made to an independent body, duly conferred with the requisite jurisdiction. The Chairman noted that the situation may have arisen through an inadvertent failure to pay due regard to the changes introduced by the new constitution in 2010, or to fully grasp the consequential law-making requirements compelled by those changes. In any event the Commission is of the view that the current situation is far from optimal where good governance is concerned and defeats the purpose of having a Complaints Commission.

The Commission, however, looks forward to working with the Cabinet and other stakeholders to bring about a speedy solution to this problem.