~ Confidential advisors soon for each ministry ~
PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said her statements about penalizing document leakers was not intended to “squash” the media.
She indicated that efforts are currently underway to have confidential advisors in each ministry where civil servants can get an avenue to confidentially report and resolve matters.
During last week Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing Jacobs indicated that persons who leak confidential government documents should face the consequences of their actions and warned that if laws have to be adjusted to make this possible, then it will have government’s attention. She said it had been highly alarming that a culture of leaking information was created and it was reprehensible to her that a reporter would think it is ok to place official documents in the public sphere.
During this week’s briefing the Prime Minister said in retrospect, she allowed her “passions to take it further than it was necessary” with her remarks.
“Maybe if I could give a bit of a background information – as a teacher myself and as a former Minister of Education, I had the unfortunate experience of seeing very personal and sensitive information published by, at the time, I believe it was an aspiring politician or politician which divulged psychosocial reports of the educators and the care team members of the schools which I was in charge of,” she explained.
“[It was –Ed.] very sensitive information with names etc. in there and that was where I was coming from. In the sense that, yes, it is important to be transparent with the public with everyone, but not all the gory details of what is being worked on in confidence should be divulged. So, it is in no way and means that my statement was made to squash the media or anything of the sort and if that is how it was perceived, then of course, you have my apologies,” she said.
She explained that government has mechanisms in place to deal with any type of leakage that may take place such as the LMA, the oath that is sworn and the integrity declaration that is signed.
“We also have an approved code of conduct which we are working towards moving with confidential advisors. We understand that within organisations, we must have the ability for persons to be able to go to persons of trust and find the right ways to have any challenges and issues resolved. Transparency and trust are what this government is working on and remains committed to doing so.”
Civil Servants will be given, in writing, an open call to apply to be confidential advisors within each ministry. “We were initially looking at just revamping the persons of trust that already existed when we had the Integrity Bureau on St. Maarten some years ago. This has, let’s say, fallen by wayside. Trying to re-enact that and get those persons involved back in the saddle… has been something we have been doing over the past weeks.
“However, we think if we send out a broader [message – Ed.] to get persons who are interested in this function whereby you will be seen as the person to provide information on your role as well as integrity related issues to employees, providing management with advice and recommendations on integrity within the administrative body, and advising and supporting employees who suspect, have witnessed or have been a victim of misconduct. [Also – Ed.] ensuring that the confidentiality of the report of misconduct and the anonymity of the reporter as well as assisting in and or encouraging dialogue on possible misconduct. Those are the main tasks of that person.”
She said persons in government who are interested in carrying that function are welcomed to send in their application.
“We had requested Integrity Chamber’s assistance to deal with advices we had received on integrity challenges and based on their advice we are moving forward with confidential advisor suggestion.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/jacobs-penalising-document-leakers-remarks-not-meant-to-squash-media