Integrity Chamber Advises Sint Maarten Parliament on its Draft Code of Conduct
The Integrity Chamber provided requested feedback and input to the Parliament of Sint Maarten on Article 10 of the draft Code of Conduct of Parliament (hereinafter: ‘CoC’).
Article 10 of the CoC establishes rules concerning the enforcement of the CoC. The article includes the concept of a Handling Committee that would exist as an external committee and would be comprised of one (1) representative of the Ombudsman and two (2) representatives of the Integrity Chamber. Enforcement of the CoC will be guaranteed by the Permanent Committee for Integrity, who will receive complaints and/or concerns of breaches of the CoC. Anyone can file a complaint and/or concern. Thereafter, the complaints and/or concerns will be sent to the Handling Committee, for further handling. Furthermore, the article sets out a list of sanctions for the Handling Committee to consider in the event that a MP breaches the CoC.
Based on the request from Parliament concerning Article 10, the Integrity Chamber recommends the following:
- Establish an internal procedure for filing and handling complaints and/or concerns internally by the Permanent Committee. Complaints and/or concerns must be handled in an objective manner and can be sent to the Handling Committee when the objectivity of the Permanent Committee cannot be guaranteed or if additional expertise is needed. The procedure should contain certain considerations such as, a clear format, the information that is required for processing, and whether a complaint can be submitted anonymously.
- Outline the authorities of the Handling Committee. The committee should play an advisory role and should not have the authority to apply sanctions. The authority to apply sanctions on breaches to the CoC should be an exclusive right of Parliament.
While the request was based on Article 10, the Integrity Chamber made use of the opportunity to advise on other articles of the CoC to contribute to a more comprehensive CoC and reinforce the implementation and execution of the CoC. The Integrity Chamber further advised to:
- Broaden the definition of ‘gift’, ‘ancillary activity’, and the principle ‘respect’ to include passive behaviour of MP’s towards other MPs, government officials, guests of parliament and/or the public;
- Incorporate the submission of an annual disclosure form for the external interests of the MPs;
- Establish general standards for receiving or giving gifts by MPs that are more in line with other codes of conducts for parliamentarians and government officials; and
- Define confidential information and include an article that emphasizes the importance of keeping certain information confidential.
The Integrity Chamber finally advises Parliament to apply the recommendations and implement the CoC before the end of 2023, as the current Parliament has ample knowledge on the topic and is close to finalizing the process. The full advice can be viewed via the button below.