It has been a little over a month, since alleged unlawful activity within the Ministry of Immigration has surfaced and up till now, we have yet to receive official word from the Police Department on a potential Police investigation. On Wednesday, Attorney at Law Audrey Matura Sheppard told us why she believes there will not be an investigation and if there is one, why, in her opinion, it would be fruitless.
“I want people to know that one of disperse things why we will never do a proper investigation at the Immigration Department is that by the time, if they allow an investigator to move in, they’ll have to consent that they destroyed evidence. If we believe what is going as credit out of what has happened, came out of our government. These Nationality Certificates are being signed…and we believe that what the whistleblower said that “Castro was giving recommendations”, the first step would have been for proper investigation to begin and take over these computers from different offices, because in the computer hard drive, no matter how you delete, you can find embedded a lot of the documents were written and all the information”.
Audrey Matura Sheppard affirms that the Commissioner of Police, as well as the Office of the DPP are obligated by the Constitution to – well – do their job.
Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd: “And you know what, it’s horrible about the fact that they don’t want to investigate, is that the way the law is designed and the way of how that culture complacency and accommodation you are talking about is that we will not take the police; the Commissioner will not take the initiative and constitutionally, he has the power to do it; the DPP too! He is constitutionally empowered to mandate at the police to do an investigate, but none of them will do it because all of them, their appointment has to be at the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the consultation of the Leader of the opposition and bla, bla, bla and a whole lot of things…and I have been at the DPP”s office and I see how many DPPs was pressured, tie a minister over the case and then this minister dealing with this case, and when the DPP called in and said, “minister So and So, just try mek dem words, you know? DPP is explaining that to the wrong person because the minute you finish tell me that story, I’m writing a report and I am going to demand an investigation and I use this copy, caz you should have never entertained that phone call to begin with”.
In light of recent allegations of a visa quota system, where Government Ministers reportedly profit a large sum from expediting the process for acquiring a visa and selling these travel documents to the highest bidder, Audrey Matura Sheppard joined the cry of organizations such as the VIP, calling for Ministers to disclose their finances and assets, according to the Corruption in Public Office Act.
Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd: “It is stated in law, but it isconstituted in law, and someone needs to move the court and mandate that the Prime Minister to appoint the Integrity Commission, because it has been happening for example, Castro and Penner and all the Ministers, including Manuel who said he only signed one recommendation, should be making their financial disclosures based on these allegations especially against Penner and against Castro. That Commission should then go and inquire into the finances of these people; they are empowered to do it. Section 3 of that Act says that it is established for the purpose of five years it should be a chairman, an attorney to be a part of it, and an accountant should be a part of it, and then it sets out what their suppose to do. What they are supposed to do in Section 4, the function of the Commission there to receive exam at the finale declaration file under the Act what is their assets and liabilities”.
According to the law, elected official who fail to make public, their income and liabilities as well as those of their close kin, are liable to a payable punishment. Meanwhile, the People’s United party says it will plan a demonstration on Friday in front of the National Assembly to protest corruption.
“We are activating our people for demonstration on Friday. We are urging our people in Belize Rural north to start the second recall mechanism. Our concern, now that the country is in crisis that our Prime Minister is even considering to go on leaves extendedly, and that, we believe is unacceptable if it is true, and lo and behold we cannot have Gaspar Vega as Prime Minster when this country is in crisis”.
We understand that the Prime Minister will be out of the country for three weeks to a month, as he is scheduled for a back surgery some time soon.