No contradiction between standards law and corruption prescription – Ombudsman

The new public standards law prevents investigations of acts prior to October 2018, but that does not mean that an allegation does not get investigated under the Criminal Code

The Ombudsman said the Commissioner for Standards and Public Life has a power of review of a much wider category of public officers to whom the amendment of the Criminal Code does not apply.
The Ombudsman said the Commissioner for Standards and Public Life has a power of review of a much wider category of public officers to whom the amendment of the Criminal Code does not apply.

A new law on standards in public life does not contradict Criminal Code provisions that abolished prescription on corrupt acts by politicians, by not empowering the standards commissioner from investigating acts before October 2018.

The Ombudsman was asked to investigate an apparent ‘anomaly’ between the Standards in Public Life Act that precludes the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life from investigating an allegation of an act which occurred before 30 October 2018, the date on which the Act came into force, and the Criminal Code, which removes prescription on acts of corruption by politician.

The complainant submitted that the Standards in Public Life Act was diametrically contrary to the Criminal Code.

While the Ombudsman stated that it was not his function to investigate whether a law was correct, he said the fact that the Commissioner should not investigate allegations before October 2018, “in no way diminished or reduced the effect of the recent amendment to the Criminal Code that removed the applicability of prescription in case of corruption when committed by persons elected to political office.”

The Ombudsman said the Commissioner for Standards and Public Life has a power of review of a much wider category of public officers to whom the amendment of the Criminal Code does not apply.

“The fact that the Commissioner cannot investigate an allegation of an act which occurred prior to the coming into force of the Act did not exclude that he could investigate an alleged offence that was continuous or if the person who allegedly committed it was still enjoying the benefits of his actions after the coming into force of the Act.”

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