SOCU remains under Police

first_img… Cabinet says no diversionFollowing back and forth as to whether the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) should be removed from under the purview of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Cabinet has made it clear that there will be no diversion.This position was re-enforced on Thursday by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who told a post-Cabinet media briefing that SOCU will remain under the GPF.Attorney General Basil Williams“The matter did come up and it was clear in Cabinet there was no diversion and it is clear that the SOCU is a unit of the Guyana Police Force and is under the superintendence of the Guyana Police Force… It will always be and remains a unit of the Guyana Police Force,” Harmon declared.Over the past weeks, there have been conflicting positions from Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on the unit.The Attorney General had previously declared that SOCU should be removed from under the Police Force and become independent in order to focus more on its core functions of policing the new Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.“SOCU as you know is a creature of the AML/CFT regime. It was created under the AML/CFT legislation. It is important for us, and SOCU has been very busy, very up and about, and it is very important for Guyana that SOCU actually performs its core functions, the functions related to AML/CFT and that it is not burdened with other police work,” Williams had stated.However, Ramjattan in response had posited that while he is willing to limit the responsibilities of SOCU to probe financial crimes, he is opposed to separating it from the Police Force.“We are going to listen to the voices of the opposition too and if they feel that, OK, if this thing is long or if another person in Cabinet feels that it is not the appropriate thing, well fine we are going to narrow it down back,” he subsequently remarked.Nevertheless, the two government ministers had met and discussed their opposing stance, eventually agreeing to have further talks on moving forward with the mandate of the unit.Asked by Guyana Times when the talks will commence, the Public Security Minister said on Wednesday that he will soon be engaging his colleague Minister of Legal Affairs to discuss the powers entrusted to SOCU and the range of investigations the unit should carry out.“Myself and Mr Basil Williams will meet on that and we will talk about it, I suppose when parliament resumes, but I could pick up the phone and call him anytime. However, I would want to have some time to go through it with him as he had indicated that we should narrow it down back. That’s fine, I can see with him if that’s his position,” Ramjattan stated.Government and the Opposition had been bickering over the past months on the mandate of SOCU, which the PPP said is being used to drive political motives and is conducting operations outside of its purview.However, asked whether he will consider suggestions by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Minister Ramjattan declared that he has always had an open-door policy with the Opposition.“Everything we do, we listen to the views of the Opposition because we would like to ensure that their views are heard; that’s what genuine democracies and genuine democrats are made of, they listen to the voices. There aren’t anything that would have been said by the PPP that I have not taken into consideration,” he posited.To this end, the Public Security Minister went on to outline some of the instances where he would have sought and implemented recommendations from the Opposition on draft key policy papers.He noted that the comments of former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, was incorporated in the final drafts of the Trafficking in Persons Master Plan and the Drugs Master Plan Strategy.Additionally, he stated that Dr Frank Anthony was contacted on the Juvenile Justice Bill, on which he made some recommendations.last_img read more