Wed | Sep 20, 2017

INDECOM wants powers to probe new MOCA

Published:Thursday | June 22, 2017 | 6:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Terrence Williams (left), commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), has the attention of Hamish Campbell assistant commissioner of INDECOM, in Gordon House on Tuesday.

Head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Terrence Williams wants the oversight body he leads to have powers to probe cases involving officers in the proposed new Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

At a meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament on Tuesday, Williams argued that the proposed arrangement for investigating possible abuses by MOCA investigators, in its new dispensation, would fall below the standard required by the Constitution and the procedural obligations for probing abuses of the citizen.

The MOCA bill, now before the House of Representatives, proposes an executive committee appointed by the minister to exclusively investigate complaints made against personnel assigned to the elite investigative body.

"When they will require boots on the ground to do the investigation, they [must get] the minister's permission to select an agency to provide this assistance," said Williams, noting that it breaches the requirement of independence.

Shared structure

He also raised the concern that the oversight committee shared the hierarchical and institutional structure with the officers of MOCA.

At present, MOCA is part of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, but the proposed new law seeks to establish the agency as an entity separate from the force. Members of MOCA are now subject to investigation by INDECOM if complaints are made against them.

Williams suggested that INDECOM continue to have oversight for MOCA under the proposed new statute.

The MOCA bill provides for the establishment of a statutory law enforcement agency to be known as the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.

The agency will have operational independence and authority and be dedicated to combating serious crimes in collaboration with other local and foreign law enforcement organisations and strategic partners. It will investigate and prosecute the complex cases that are often characteristic of organised criminal networks.