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The Criminal Mutual Assistance Act and Guyana

Once again in the world of drug interception and arrests, the situation in Guyana is becoming as they say in Alice in Wonderland “curiousier and curiousier”. Now the Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has chipped in on the debate as to why Guyana did not get information from the Canadians on the infamous narcotics in Pepper Sauce case.

The Minister, whose ruling party on the election campaign trail said it knew a lot about the case, is now saying that it could not seek assistance under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act because it was not passed in the National Assembly and the President had not assented to it at the time of the pepper sauce case.

The Ministry says it must be noted that during the initial investigations regarding the cocaine seized in Canada during December 2008, a request was made by the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) directly to the Canadian authorities for the information. However, the information provided to CANU was insufficient to commence criminal proceedings in Guyana according to the Ministry.

But what is surprising is that the Ministry of Home Affairs has admitted that the reason that no request was made through the Mutual Legal Assistance mechanism was due to the fact that at that time (2008) such a mechanism did not exist since the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act No. 38 of 2009( the next year) was assented to on 9th June 2010 (the following year).

The Ministry claims that it only seeks information for important investigations and that so far it has used the treaty for about fifteen cases many of which are still under investigation. The Ministry did not cite even one case where conclusions were arrived at and people at this end charged based on the significant information received.

Particularly for several narcotic cases over the last two decades or so, very few if any persons have been detained, arrested, charged, convicted or even extradited for various narcotics cases that occurred overseas.

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