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Special Branch acted as ‘republic’

Saturday, March 15 2014

THE Special Branch of the Police Service acted “as its own republic,” did not see itself accountable to the Commissioner of Police (CoP), and did not see the need to share intelligence/ information with any other agency, including the Defence Force. This was one of the findings of the Commission of Enquiry into the July 27, 1990 attempted coup.

This information is contained in Chapter 12 of the Commission’s report, which was deemed confidential. In laying the report in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said this confidentiality would be waived.

This chapter states the Special Branch was responsible for the intelligence-gathering on behalf of the State. However the Special Branch was its own “republic.’’ The report said while it was an arm of the Police Service, this unit “ did not see itself as being accountable to the CoP.”

The report said the Special Branch “determined, as a matter of culture and tradition, not to share information/intelligence with any other agency, not even with the Defence Force.”

The report described the arrangements for intelligence gathering in the country at the time of the coup as “loose and haphazard.” The report further indicates that if the then head of the Special Branch could testify that he never met with then prime minister Arthur NR Robinson before the attempted coup, “speaks eloquently to the attitude of this agency to its duties, and its sense of responsibility.”

The Commission recommended the consolidation of all intelligence agencies into “one composite authority in the nature of a national security superstructure.” The head of this agency should be appointed by the President “on the advice of the Prime Minister after written consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.”

The Commission recommended the establishment of a special unit, “to monitor and investigate corruption within the security agencies generally.”

The Commission said the Police Service needed to put strategies and systems in place to counter corruption within its ranks.

The Commission also recommended the creation of a special independent anti-corruption unit within the Customs and Excise Department. There was also a recommendation for “state-of-the-art scanners be installed at all legal ports notwithstanding that the bulk of contraband enters the State through illegal ports.”

The Commission noted the police have “an aversion to going on operations in the forests and bush.” The Commission recommended that since the military were trained for such tasks, it be directed as a matter of policy to “spend more time ‘in the bush’ where there is information/Intelligence about the erection of camps, and illegal activities”

The Commission recommended Government develop a memorandum of understanding with Venezuela for “closer co-operation in the fight against illegal firearms and drugs” since more than one person who presented evidence to it identified “Venezuela as the primary source of guns entering TT.” The Commission also recommended a comprehensive regime, with associated legislation, “for the monitoring and recording of all sea craft entering, or leaving the territorial waters of TT.”

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