The assault on corruption must start with the establishment and empowerment of truly independent institutions

Dear Editor,

I read with considerable interest of the commendable offer of my colleague Mr. Vic Puran, to prosecute pro bono persons connected with alleged corruption in the Amaila Falls Road Project.

My learned friend’s motivation is based on his desire to “aid President Donald Ramotar in the President’s bid to cleanse and purge corruption where it exists in the public domain. The aim to create a better country for all.”

My friend opined “it is a tragedy in Guyana that the Police will not launch an investigation into government affairs unless called upon by the Government”.

My humble view is that the task of tackling corruption in Guyana is beyond the scope of the commendable pro bono efforts of any Attorney, irrespective of his or her skill.

My learned friend, perhaps unwittingly, provided the solution to the problem of tackling corruption when he pointed to the impotence of the Guyana Police Force to launch any  such investigation into corruption without the implicit or explicit nod of the government.

The assault on corruption must start with the establishment, empowerment and enhancement of truly independent institutions capable of tackling corruption.

There is and has been no shortage of highly qualified Attorneys graduating from law school over the past decade who, if the circumstances were conducive, would remain in the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions  and there make a long and successful career.

The fact is that  the emoluments offered and facilities  available coupled with the  circumstances in which the DPP’s office finds itself have resulted in the constant flight of  good talent from the Chambers.

There are some fine legal brains still left in the chambers but  in the absence of access to electronic law reports, comparable facilities and remuneration  as are available in the private sector, the business of prosecution faces an uphill task.

The spectacle of sending Police prosecutors without law degrees or extensive legal training, into court to prosecute serious criminal offences in the Magistrate’s Court against better armed defence Attorneys, continues daily.

The woeful lack of forensic facilities, including scientific and accounting skills, which are absent from and or unavailable to the Guyana Police or any law enforcement agency in Guyana, is legendary. My good friend can perhaps tell us when last has there been a successful prosecution of a complex fraud charge in Guyana.

And this is long before we contemplate the long shadow of the executive  and its actors, who hover over all law enforcement agencies.

Every police officer knows that it is not worth his career pursuing investigations in which someone higher up has expressed an interest on the part of a suspect.

My friend is keenly aware of the long tradition in the Guyana Police Force of transferring officers to the far reaches of the country when they hav esought to follow the evidence against the directions of others.

I am sure my friend is also aware of the significant resistance police officers encounter in attempting to secure tertiary level education while in the Force.

The cleansing and purging of corruption in the Republic should not depend on His Excellency, perhaps it should be in spite of His Excellency.

If we are serious about the issue of corruption and genuinely want “to create a better country for all” then let us start with rescuing the institutions which are vital to the fight against corruption from the clutches of the powerful and influential whether they be in the state or private sector.

A successful businessman this week told me that to stay successful you need you own lawyer, accountant, Minister,  Police officer and Customs officer all on speed dial.

I am sure that it is the view of my colleagues that His Excellency’s “high moral integrity in public life” ought to be replicated in state agencies thus let us not locate those entrusted with the enforcement of the laws of this dear Republic  in circumstances which might considerably impair their ability to perform impartially  without fear and with “high moral integrity”.

My friend’s fear that “Should this tragic event occur then the presidency would be open to the grasp of rogues and vagabonds” perhaps should be restated as a requiem.

Yours faithfully,
C.A. Nigel Hughes.
Hughes, Fields & Stoby

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