Legal opinion finds SARA law dangerous, disingenuous

first_img… reverses enshrined presumption of‘innocent until proven guilty’Statements that the State Asset Recovery Bill is in consonance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption is true to a limited extent, only since key recommendations not included in the current draft, as put forward by Government, do not cater for financing of candidates and political parties, reporting by public officials of acts of corruption; rules to prevent corruption among members of the judiciary and abuse of functions among other acts.PSC Chairman Eddie BoyerThis is according to the legal opinion that was sought by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and has since been made public as the Private Sector body has again reiterated its call for a re-examination of the draft legislation as has been promulgated by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC).InnocencePointing to many of the concerns with the application of the Bill as proposed by Government, the legal opinion sought by the PSC said “the model for the SARA Bill is an extreme form of asset forfeiture in which the presumption of innocence is at least, reversed.”It further charges that the Bill, if enacted into law will empower the Director to include, as part of the civil recovery application, “property, other than State property.”In fact, according to the legal opinion sought by the PSC, while the draft legislation proposes to deal with the recovery of State assets, there is no actual definition for “State Asset” in the Bill neither is there a definition for “State Property” – another term used liberally throughout the proposed piece of legislation. On the matter of the far reaching powers of the SARA Director, the PSC’s legal opinion has actually called some “frightening”.Under the proposed law, the Director can do “anything” which he considers appropriate, incidental to the discharge of his function.This effectively means that the “Director can assume functions of Commissioner General, the Commissioner of Police as well as the Director of Public Prosecutions.”According to the legal opinion sought, “most frighteningly, the Director can actually contract out the power, functions, and duties conferred on him.”Director’s powerThe powers of the SARA Director were deemed to be “incredibly wide… In fact, the Director’s functions are wider than those of SARA and considerably wider than those specified for the original corporation sole Director in the UK Proceeds of Crime Act.”The PSC’s legal opinion sought said, “When all the powers and functions of the Director are taken as a whole, together with the status of corporation sole, the Director has more powers and is subject to fewer restrictions, than the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.”On the matter of the funding for the Agency, the PSC’s legal opinion on the draft Bill has found that the provision granting SARA 25 per cent of its proceeds to finance its operations in fact, “violates Article 216 of the Guyana Constitution; and gives the Agency a direct interest in the funds raised.”It was pointed out that in the USA, the Police use this as a main source of funds, “a practice that is widely criticised as abused.”Legally impossibleThe proposed SARA legislation also envisages authorising the Finance Ministry to designate the Director and other named officers of SARA, as persons having the powers of a revenue and customs officer.The PSC’s legal opinion observed that under the Guyana Revenue Act, the power to appoint revenue and customs officers rests in the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and as such, the “proposed provision, is either an amendment by implication or disregards that Act… It seems improper and legally impossible for a Minister to exercise a statutory power which Parliament has vested in the Governing Board of the GRA.”It was pointed out too that similarly, the Public Security Minister is now being conferred with powers to designate the Director and other named officers of SARA as persons having the powers of Police Officers and immigration officers.“Parliament has conferred the power to appoint Police Officers and immigration officers on the Police Service Commission and the Commissioner of Police,” according to the PSC’s legal opinion which states that its objection in relation to the GRA applies to this provision as well.FrighteningIt was essentially concluded that the proposed Bill seeks to achieve far too many objectives, namely the reduction in crime, recovery of State Assets and the introduction of a system of civil asset forfeiture.“The consequences of this over-ambitious approach are a frightening array of overlapping laws, concentration of power, violation of the Constitution and constitutional principles, violation of the standing orders of the National Assembly, and a potential reduction of the civil liberties: due process and the presumption of innocence.”It was pointed out too that by imposing a lower burden of proof on the Director in a case involving confiscation of property, than in a criminal case, “can put citizens in a serious disadvantage against the State, depriving him of the very funds he ought to need to prove his innocence.”Striking similaritiesThe PSC’s legal opinion observed too that the Bill contains some striking similarities with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 of the UK – that Act has been a major failure and has been effectively abolished.last_img read more

PFF hookup with Qatar now for age-group plans

first_imgMOST READ View comments Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:11Makabayan bloc defends protesting workers, tells Año to ‘shut up’03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games01:38‘Bato’ to be ‘most effective’ CHR head? It’s for public to decide – Gascon02:07Aquino to Filipinos: Stand up vs abuses before you suffer De Lima’s ordeal01:28Ex-President Noynoy Aquino admits contracting pneumonia00:45Aquino agrees with Drilon on SEA games ‘kaldero’ spending issue Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Matteo Guidicelli had saved up for Sarah G’s ring since 2014? Ethel Booba on SEA Games cauldron: ‘Sulit kung corrupt ang panggatong’ What’s behind the display of Chinese flag in Boracay? Priority legislation in the 18th Congress The Qatar Airways deal with the PFL will be finalized this month, said Araneta, who personally sought the main sponsor for the league that has struggled to gain traction in its first three seasons.“We really have a lot of football activities coming in and I want to see that this is being implemented properly,” Araneta said. “We are not neglecting players in the age-group level. In fact, we have been revitalizing our grassroots program to find more homegrown talents in the country.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGreatest ever?SPORTSFormer PBA import Anthony Grundy passes away at 40SPORTSSan Miguel suspends Santos, Nabong, Tubid indefinitely after ‘tussle’ in practiceOn top of the national under-17 tournament, Araneta said the PFF will also hold under-16 and under-18 regional tournament for girls as part of its thrust to develop women’s football. The PFF chief hopes these tournaments will lead to improved performances in international tournaments.“We want to start the under-17 tournament next year,” he said, noting that the PFF had also begun holding a national under-15 tournament this year. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) looks to further strengthen its age-group programs with the impending entry of global brand Qatar Airways as the sponsor of the Philippines Football League (PFL).PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta announced the staging of a national under-17 tournament next year as funds initially allocated to the country’s top football league will now be redirected to more age-group tournaments.ADVERTISEMENT Duterte calls himself, Go, Cayetano ‘the brightest stars’ in PH politics Duterte officials’ paranoia is ‘singularly myopic’ LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Drilon apologizes to BCDA’s Dizon over false claim on designer of P50-M ‘kaldero’ POC ready to spend millions for SEA Games gold medalists Rice industry paralysislast_img read more