The Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams can be heard on any given occasion explaining oversight with a reference to accountants and auditors.
Aptly so, the greatest of accountants within public organizations are required to be audited. The act of auditing is merely an action of checks and balances, fact-finding and should not be muddled with the notion of inaccuracies, error or wrongdoing. An action of searching for accountability and where necessary change.
Oversight of any agency, can be viewed similarly.
An independent investigation (oversight) seeks to satisfy five factors, all of which are important and must be clearly understood by everyone.
- The full facts are quickly uncovered.
- Culpable and discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice.
- Any suspicion of deliberate wrongdoing, if it is unjustified, is allayed.
- Any dangerous practices and procedures are rectified.
- Those who have lost their relatives may at least have the satisfaction of knowing that lessons learned from the death may save the life of others.
For these aims to be achieved, INDECOM’s investigative conclusions must be based on thorough, objective and impartial analysis of all relevant evidence. The investigation has to consider the use of lethal force according to the “no more than absolutely necessary” standard required by Article 2.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. When determining whether the force used was no more than absolutely necessary, the investigation has to carefully scrutinize two things, namely:
- Whether force used was strictly proportionate to the aim of protecting persons against unlawful force.
- Whether the operation was planned and controlled so as to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, recourse to legal force.
The INDECOM Act was implemented to ensure that these international principles can be achieved.
There is a natural concern over ‘who watches the watchers?’ INDECOM’s role and performance is also overseen in a variety of different ways.
- As a Commission of Parliament, INDECOM is mandated to provide regular reports and give an account of matters related to decisions of operations at any given time. INDECOM has provided five annual reports, ten quarterly reports and one special report, since inception, to Parliament. The Commissioner has also appeared before Parliamentary Committees: Joint Select Committee and Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).
- The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), can at any time, take charge of or discontinue any prosecution initiated by the Commission, as the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) is advised before the Commission charges an officer. So far, the DPP has ended one entire case and part of another.
- A Judicial Review of any of the Commission’s decisions to prosecute, can be sought by an organization or member of the public. Presently INDECOM has had eight Judicial Reviews in the last six years.
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