NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) said yesterday that it is ‘encouraged’ by the tabling of the Ombudsman Bill, 2023 in the House of Assembly, as it called for sufficient time to be allowed for public review and input of the legislation.
The legislation seeks to establish a body for transparency, accountability and integrity in the administration and decision-making of public institutions and authorities, and to promote and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals and international human rights law.
ORG noted that it has advocated for over five years for Ombudsman legislation that reflects international standards to provide Bahamians the power and avenue to hold those in authority accountable.
Such legislation has commonly been used throughout the Caribbean to provide clearer pathways for citizens to report and pursue concerns of corruption and make a significant difference in the promotion of integrity in governance.
ORG’s Executive Director, Matthew Aubry, described corruption as a danger to the rule of law and a threat to both sustainable economic development and the administration of justice. “Most of all, it undermines our democracy,” he said.
While commending the Davis administration for bringing The Ombudsman Bill 2023 forward, ORG has recommended that sufficient time be allowed for public review and input of the legislation.
ORG has placed the bill on its free online Policy Review Center where people can read the bill and provide feedback statements of support and suggestions for improvement. The Policy Review Center can be found at www.orgbahamas.com/policyreviewcenter/ombudsman-bill-2023.
Aubry added: “Along with improved accountability, the Office of the Ombudsman could see the ease of doing business improve throughout the country as the public service thrives. This can provide citizens with greater individualized freedom through access to financial opportunity and inclusion.”
ORG’s Assistant Director, Steffon Evans, similarly said the it’s critical for Bahamians to provide their feedback and suggestions. “If properly implemented, the Ombudsman Bill could change the way that maladministration and corruption are handled in The Bahamas,” Evans said.
ORG described the tabling of the Ombudsman Bill, 2023 as a public sign of progress, and underscored the non-profit organization’s aim to continue the public promotion of policies that encourage a fair and just society.