Oct 31, 2019 News
Conceding it is a fact that the work of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) leaves much to be desired, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, has said that the Government is open to seeking international help, which will boost the capability of the crime-fighting unit.
Ramjattan’s comments come on the heels of President David Granger expressing his displeasure at the dismissal of several cases brought to the court by SOCU.
Granger told the nation, recently, via radio, that despite the establishment of the States Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), they have been experiencing some difficulties in investigations and in finding evidence.
The problems, Granger said, are due to a number of circumstances, which hamper the prosecutorial process including the lack of proper investigative capabilities.
It was noted that in one instance, a $362M case was thrown out because the special prosecutors failed to show up in Court.
Added to that, in the past, SOCU has faced heavy criticisms from the political opposition which labeled the unit a part of Government‘s plan to carry out a vendetta against members of its team.
However, Ramjattan has debunked the allegations that the government is not dubious about SOCU’s defects.
According to Ramjattan, work is underway to revamp the unit.
“We have had some problems and at present we are working to fix things. SOCU has a new acting Director, Althea Padmore, who is on the ground assessing what it is that we need in order to improve the work of the unit.”
Sharing similar sentiments as the President, Ramjattan said that once re-elected in the upcoming elections, the government will continue to press for better investigative tools to ensure persons are placed before the courts and prosecuted.
Ramjattan added, too, that Government is open to recruiting international help to boost SOCU’s capabilities.
At present, he said an audit of the unit is underway.
Once that is complete, Ramjattan noted there will be disciplinary action taken to remedy the issues laid out in the SOCU audit report.
That will include terminations for some officers, and transfers for others.
The audit was ordered by Police Commissioner, Leslie James, in February, following claims of grave mismanagement. It has recommended immediate transfers and a fraud investigation of several of the discrepancies.
An audit of the financial records of the SOCU had uncovered serious irregularities, including the falsification of records.
The PPP had demanded not just that the unit be investigated with intent to prosecute, but that Ramjattan resign immediately.
In a release, the opposition party had stated that it has been publicly complaining about SOCU for some time now. The unit of the Guyana Police Force is removed from its mandate of combatting organised crimes and money laundering, the PPP said.
It has been reduced to a rogue unit “carrying out political directions to witch hunt PPP leaders and shake down the business community under the pretext of crime fighting.”
According to Ramjattan, “Action will be taken by the Commissioner. I have seen the report. It is not a very nice report, and the Commissioner has told me that he is going to take action.”
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