Absence of Witness Protection Plan hindering Gov’t’s efforts to go after corrupt officials
The refusal of persons to give statements to the police in relation to the stealing and misuse of public funds during the previous administration’s tenure is hindering the government’s efforts to move ahead with criminal prosecutions against the culprits.
This is according to Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan who was speaking at a Press Conference on Friday.
The government came under much criticism for not implementing recommendations made in the close to 50 audits conducted into State Entities, since its assumption of office.
The Minister outlined several reasons given for the hesitance to provide the evidence needed, however, he said the major concern is the lack of a Witness Protection Plan.
“You can give a lot of the evidence to an auditor but when it comes to criminal prosecutions, you have to do the written statements and some of these persons who have to give and testify, when they know what the investigations are all about, they have been telling some of the police… that they are scared to death,” Ramjattan said.
The Witness Protection Bill is expected to be laid in the National Assembly soon. In 2015, the government announced its intention to table the bill in the National Assembly to protect witnesses who give evidence in the Courts via the provision of safe houses and new identities where needed, among other things.
Where the prosecutions of Former Government Ministers are concerned, Ramjattan explained that the Laws of Guyana will have to be amended as he was told that a Minister cannot be charged under the existing law.