Caricom security agency immunity to be removed

(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has stated that the Caricom heads of Government, at their meeting over the weekend in St Kitts, have agreed in principle to waive immunity from cocaine prosecution for individuals at the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs).

This move, Persad-Bissessar, said, will pave the way for persons accused of wrong-doing at the regional security agency, to face the possible criminal charges for their actions.

Persad-Bissessar was addressing members of the media at the VIP lounge at Piarco International Airport shortly after her arrival from the Caricom heads meeting in St Kitts on Sunday night.

Allegations of corruption, mismanagement of funds, fraud and corruption have been levelled at the agency and were first highlighted in the Sunday Express on April 17.

Lynne Anne Williams, executive director at the agency, was sent on leave on May 31, by the Caricom Bureau of Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (Consle) pending two separate audits into the agency.

Last month, Consle chairman Antigua and Barbuda National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort told the Express that a preliminary audit into the Impacs indicated that allegations of impropriety had some merit.

The objective of the preliminary investigation undertaken by the Director of Internal Audit of the Caricom Secretariat, Cort stated, was to determine the veracity or otherwise of the allegations as published in the press.

According to Persad-Bissessar, anyone found culpable of wrongdoing at the agency, which is mainly funded by this country, will feel the full brunt of the law.

She said, “You will recall earlier this year there were allegations made against the executive director of Impacs. She was subsequently sent on leave, on suspension pending investigations into the matter.”

She added: “A preliminary agreement was presented to the Heads and an (arrangement) made for a diagnostic audit to be done. But what was very interesting is that the Heads agreed in principle that should Trinidad and Tobago make a request, as Trinidad and Tobago is entitled to do under the Treaty, they would waive immunity of the organisation Impacs as well as any immunity of any persons who may have to be investigated.”

Looking at National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy, Persad-Bissessar added, “This is a matter we can follow up on and send to the relevant investigating officers.”

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in a telephone interview, yesterday welcomed the move saying that immunity from prosecution is a cloak which protected wrong-doers from facing criminal prosecution.

A former employee used the names of Ramlogan, Caribbean Court of Justice Judge Adrian Saunders, Permanent Secretary in the Attorney General’s office Simeon Yearwood and former head of Caricom Edwin Carrington in an attempt to defraud the agency of TT$440,000.

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