POND ISLAND–Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Wednesday that the misconception that government or Parliament “just have to talk” with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and use the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma as a reason for the delay of several crucial still-to-be approved laws “cannot be used any longer and will not fly, because we already escaped by a narrow vote from the representing countries.
“The truth of the matter is that these recommendations have been pending since 2012 and laws since 2014-15. These are not my ‘personal laws’, but have been pending and previous ministers/administrations were not able to finalise and pass over the last seven years,” said De Weever.
Pending Parliament’s approval are three pieces of legislation aimed at updating the country’s ability to tackle money-laundering and to combat terrorism-financing. Changes are needed to the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Book 2 of the Civil Code. These were tabled by De Weever in the Central Committee of Parliament last week, but Members of Parliament are not convinced the laws are good for the country.
Several MPs have called on the minister to speak to CFATF and try to hold off the November review deadline, with the hurricane as the factor. Responding to this call, De Weever said, “We were extremely fortunate to have been given until November for member states to vote again but we have a lot to do in the meantime.”
De Weever pointed out that the laws not only need to be passed by Parliament. They also have to be ratified, implemented, translated into English and evaluated by CFATF to ensure that they are in line with its recommendations.
A National Risk Assessment (NRA) of the country is also required to measure the effectiveness of the laws. “We have already engaged the World Bank to assist us with such. There must be a continuous monitoring and evaluation to ensure that there is a balance,” said De Weever.