Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

The last thing we need is another Breach of Trust charge

The last thing we need is another Breach of Trust charge

The concern over public officers being arrested and charged in the execution of their duties has heightened with legislators now calling for something be done to abate those fears.
Health Minister Marlon Penn made those calls in the wake of a Breach of Trust charge against former Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Myron Walwyn and Najan Christopher, who has since been sent on leave from the Premier’s Office.

Lawmakers have now taken to pleading with the government to establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to ease public servants’ fears about being charged with the criminal offence of Breach of Trust.

Unprecedented scrutiny

Penn recently joined Works Minister Kye Rymer in noting that public servants are now more fearful in conducting their duties.

“In terms of the process which our public officers have to operate under, there’s a level of scrutiny like never before,” Penn said.

Penn said legislators have a responsibility to ensure that the process is clear; especially after previously establishing a process under which constituency offices should function. 

“The same has to be true for the way that public officers should do their jobs. There needs to be clear, standard operating procedures under which public officers should function; particularly as it pertains to procurement and the new procurement rules that are going to be put in place,” Penn argued.

Integrity and diligence

According to the lawmaker, the government needs to have a better way of transaction for its workers and ensure that good, hardworking public servants who perform their duties with integrity and diligence are not worried about coming under scrutiny or being brought before the court based on a process. 

“The last thing that we want to hear again is another public officer being charged for Breach of Trust for executing their duties in good faith, based on a policy directly from the government and saying that they’re not following a process,” Penn argued.

Penn said the government has not outlined this process and argued that there is no clear SOP for how the process should be followed.

“There needs to be a process for ensuring that new legislation, new processes and the standing operating procedures are extremely clear so public officers could perform their duties as they go about their daily activity,” he stated. “[This should be implemented] so that persons could work efficiently and effectively in performing their duties without fear of being scrutinised or fear of [it] being said that they’re not performing duties in an upright manner.”
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