Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland announces anti-corruption benchmarks at the fifth annual regional meeting of the Caribbean heads of anti-corruption agencies being held in the Cayman Islands this week.

The Commonwealth secretariat is developing an anti-corruption framework that will help member countries investigate and prosecute corruption offences.

The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks framework is being developed by the Secretariat with member countries. It will provide clear steps to promote integrity and combat graft within public and private sectors.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland announced the framework package at the fifth annual regional meeting of the Caribbean heads of anti-corruption agencies being held in the Cayman Islands this week. The framework consists of 22 benchmarks covering topics from sanctions for corruption offences to investigating and prosecuting authorities, and from political lobbying to the disclosure of asset ownership.

“Each benchmark is defined by a principle and contains detailed guidance for meeting the set level of achievement,” said Scotland.

“The principles and guidance are consistent with international standards, and if adopted would go further in covering other areas of concern not previously addressed.”

The Commonwealth said this is the first such framework to cover all areas of the public and private conduct. It is expected to be considered by the Commonwealth heads of governments meeting in Rwanda next year.

At present, five Commonwealth Caribbean countries – the Bahamas, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St. Lucia – rank among the 50 least corrupt countries in the world, while none sit among the top 20 most corrupt.

“The Commonwealth’s leadership and cooperation contribute to this [achievement], which brings member countries together, recognising that we are all at our strongest when we combine our efforts,” Scotland said.

“The Commonwealth has been active in providing technical assistance and development support for national anti-corruption agencies to build their effectiveness in dealing with graft.”

However, the Secretary-General stressed that the work of anti-corruption agencies must continue with renewed vigour for the region’s future development.

The meeting in the Cayman Islands brings together the Caribbean’s most senior officials tasked with thwarting illicit financial flows.

At the meeting, officials will review their national anti-graft efforts, exchange experiences and improve understanding of the advanced techniques and procedures. They will enhance their knowledge in forensics, financial accounting and asset tracking, as well as prosecutions, public awareness and prevention.

Looking forward, the adviser and head of the Commonwealth’s public sector governance unit, Dr Roger Koranteng, said: “Anti-graft bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean will emerge from the meeting as strong watchdog institutions with a more coherent response to corruption and transparency problems in the region.”