RSIPF Forensic Auditors

Dear Editor,
IN today’s edition of the SUN newspaper, former politician and veteran journalist, Alfred Sasako, wrote an article about JANUS having obtained 8 arrest warrants in order to pursue those alleged to have been involved in corrupt dealings.
In one closing paragraph Mr Sasako wrote, “One of the difficulties faced by JANUS investigators in establishing money trails is the lack of forensic auditors in the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF). Because JANUS’ work concentrates on alleged misuse of public funds, tracing the money trails contribute to delays in gathering evidence to support prosecution in court.”
If what Mr Sasko said is a fact regarding a lack of RSIPF trained forensic auditors then it is disappointing that not sufficient skills training was developed by RAMSI in the years before the Mission’s departure in June this year.
In 2013, yes, 2013, I addressed what I then saw as a problem to be faced by the police in dealing with corruption allegations as pressure would mount for anti-corruption investigations and commercial crime operations.
At the time I also suggested how the police skills could have been enhanced aided by the OECD.
Here is the original piece published in the Solomon Times on Line.
“Thursday, 5 December 2013 12:19 PM

Investigation and Prosecution of Corruption Allegations

“Your online publication recently highlighted two articles relating to alleged corruption in the Solomon Islands and particularly, it was claimed, in the government ministries.

“Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) has called on the Leadership Code Commission (LCC) to refer serious cases to criminal investigators.

“Although there has been talk for many years about the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) office in the Solomons, including draft planning, nothing has yet materialized and corruption cases have been dealt with by the police with a relative measure of success and aided by RAMSI.

“Dealing with allegations of corruption is often difficult, especially for police officers who haven’t had the required skills training and experience. In cases of corruption there isn’t a specific scene of crime, usually no eye-witnesses or fingerprints, complicated all the more in the Solomon Islands for, according to a recent people’s survey on accountability, people are often too afraid to report corruption.

“There are three recognized strategies needed to fight corruption and these are deterrence, prevention and education. All three are important but the first is deterrence and effective sentencing of those found guilty of corruption plays an important part.

“Any anti-corruption body, whether an independent agency or the police must have certain prerequisites for effective investigation of allegations of corruption. These can be summarized, briefly, as follows:

“Independence – Investigators must have independence and be free from any political or undue influence.

“Adequate power – Legislation must be available to ensure investigators have the tools, the power, to undertake their investigations and be able to prosecute offenders.

“Resources – Investigating cases of corruption is often protracted and time consuming and money must be allocated in an anti-corruption budget to be seen as an investment for a cleaner society.

“– Confidentiality is the key to successful corruption investigations in order to prevent interference or compromise investigations. Legislation must be available to prosecute those making any unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

“Investigators – It follows that those involved in investigating corruption matters must be properly trained and be professional in both their work and conduct.

“I don’t know what training RAMSI has given to the detective officers’ of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in respect to the investigation of corruption cases but from reports which have, from time to time appeared in the local media, it seems that not enough has been done to investigate allegations of corruption reported to the police.

“In the time available before RAMSI’s final withdrawal, it might be appropriate to give added technical training to cover the proactive investigation methods needed to fully and effectively investigate reports of corruption, as well as providing adequate operational support.

“For those considering the training of police officers to combat corruption the OECD has several recommended training programmes that could be adopted successfully in countries where fighting corruption and promoting good governance are among the main priorities.”

Yours sincerely
Frank Short

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