Not all prosecutions will lead to convictions, says contractor general

Senior staff reporter

Friday, November 10, 2017

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CONTRACTOR General Dirk Harrison has cautioned against the expectation among some Jamaicans that prosecutions should result in convictions and that where they do not, the country's justice system has failed.

“In my mind there exists a prosecutorial fallacy that when one is charged, when one is prosecuted, it ultimately will lead to a conviction. There are perceived and actual issues which cause gaps in a justice system, so though someone may be before the court it doesn't ultimately mean that a conviction will arise, and the mere fact... that a conviction doesn't arise doesn't mean that the system is broken,” Harrison stated in his remarks yesterday at the handing over of US$134,000 in forensic recovery of evidence data devices and other supporting equipment from the United States Embassy, at his Oxford Road offices in Kingston.

The contractor general said that, in addition to continuous training, the new equipment from the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs will help to plug perceived gaps in the local justice machinery.

“The OCG and the new dispensation of the integrity commission must be equipped, well-oiled and capable of being a step ahead of those persons being investigated and monitored,” he said, welcoming the support of the US Government, which he added will assist his office in keeping abreast of international best practices in the investigation of acts of impropriety and corruption.

“This equipment will enhance the overall information and communications technology capacity of the office and more specifically the investigative functions of the office,” he said, informing that as part of the partnership with the US Government to fight corruption in Jamaica over the past 10 months, OCG investigators have been trained — through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs — in the areas of effective interrogation; statement analysis; major case management; contract and procurement fraud; obtaining, managing and searching electronic evidence; economic crime investigations; and contract and procurement fraud.

He noted that another batch of OCG staff are expected to travel to the United States for training in the principles of fraud investigation.

US Chargé d'Affaires to Jamaica Eric Khant reinforced the need for advanced equipment in the fight against the scourge of corruption.

He argued that corruption blunts a country's ability to provide a safe, stable and prosperous environment for its citizens and that effective checks and balances are therefore important to ensure transparent and fair processes.

Khant said the US Government had, through the United States Agency for International Development, spent approximately US$9.2 million during the past five years to help tackle corruption in Jamaica. He also expressed the hope that bodies such as the National Integrity Action will develop a wide variety of anti-corruption initiatives to influence more accountability in government.

In 2015, the OCG monitored 862 procurement contracts undertaken by public bodies, and undertook investigations into 39 matters including 10 which were brought forward from the previous year.

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