SOCU should remain under Police – Ramjattan

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first_imgFollowing the recent pronouncement by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) should be independent, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is of the view that the Unit should remain under the purview of the Guyana Police Force.Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanSpeaking with reporters on Friday, Minister Ramjattan posited that he would personally want SOCU to come under the Police Force, but noted this would be determined following debates in the National Assembly.“I would still want (SOCU) to come under the Police Force because it’s a policing authority and that’s my personal opinion. But first we have to collectively agree, I think the Attorney General has a different perspective on the issue. So like we do on everything, right down to contracts, we debate and then make a decision,” the Public Security Minister stated.On Tuesday last, Minister Basil Williams had announced that SOCU should be removed from under the Police Force in order to focus more on fighting money laundering, noting that it would not be wise for the Unit to be considered as one carrying out the work of the Force.“It is important for us because SOCU has been very busy, very up and about and it’s very important for it to perform its core functions related to AML/CFT and not be burdened with other Police work… SOCU needs to be an independent body like in the manner of CANU (Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit)… It is required now that these agencies be independent and carry out their own investigations when they receive report. We cannot remove SOCU from its core functions,” the Attorney General had stated.However, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo days later criticised such a move, warning that the Unit would be used as a political weapon.Moreover, Jagdeo posited that the Unit should return to focusing on its core function; that is fighting money laundering, rather than doing regular Police work such as investigating murders, robbery and theft in accordance with the protocol recently developed by the Public Security Ministry.Armed with a signed copy of the SOCU protocol, he told a Thursday afternoon press conference that this new mandate is ridiculous and with this expanded mandate, not much is left for the rest of the Guyana Police Force to do, as he urged that SOCU returns to its original mandate.“This is a Special Organsied Crime Unit, it can’t do 21 things, it has to go back to its core functions, which was [fighting] money laundering and terrorism. There are other places in the Police Force where the deal with piracy, smuggling, fraud murder, you have the CID, or environmental crimes and counterfeiting of products, that’s not for SOCU,” the Opposition Leader declared.However, in response to Jagdeo, the Public Security Minister pointed out on Friday that the amended Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for SOCU does not entail the investigating robberies or petty crimes. But he explained that SOCU is a Police Unit and every Police Unit is involved in all types of crime.Nevertheless, he noted that the emphasis of the Unit is on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorists offences, which the AML provisions cater for.“That is what they have been doing all along… So it is not as if in the new Standard Operating Procedure, which we amended to accommodate them, that they are going to be robberies and so on. But if there is, let’s say, an anti-terrorist crime that then results in murder are you telling me that this Unit will deal with the anti-money laundering but when it comes to the murder, they send it back to the homicide squad – no! (SOCU) will proceed to do all of these investigations because a lot will be inter-related,” the Minister stated.According to Ramjattan, he found it “ludicrous” that the Opposition Leader would criticise the SoPs when his Administration – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – set up the Unit without any such protocols.last_img

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