Mozambique: Criminal Investigation Should Be Freed of Red Tape

Maputo — Criminal investigation is not compatible with red tape, warned the General Director of Mozambique's National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), Domingos Jofane, on Monday.

He was speaking in Maputo at the fifth national meeting between SERNIC and the Attorney-General's Office (PGR).

Jofane called for a change in the legal approach that would allow speed in criminal investigations. He believed that the current system is excessively bureaucratic, and cannot keep up with the "extraordinary" mobilisation capacity of organised criminal groups.

"To face, with greater effectiveness and efficiency, criminal groups, that sometimes have international connections, and are generally endowed with a high capacity for communication, and extraordinary mobility, it is fundamental that our own performance should be coordinated and freed from red tape", he urged.

He called for a strengthening of the institutional capacity of SERNIC, providing it with skilled manpower and the material and technological resources needed.

As one example, he stressed that SERNIC must be able to intercept communications - but currently there are delays in obtaining the judicial authorisation required for wire taps, which can endanger an entire investigation.

"To combat successfully crimes such as the financing of terrorism, money laundering, kidnapping, trafficking in drugs, human beings and human body parts, it is sometimes necessary to seek warrants to intercept communications", he said.

There should be "more rapid and effective" alternatives for investigation, he added - but without endangering the fundamental freedoms of citizens.

Unless procedures are speeded up, he warned, criminal investigators will always be at a disadvantage, making the country fertile ground for organised crime.

Attorney-General Beatriz Buchili reiterated her call for a law on the recovery of assets from criminals. The absence of such a law, she said, "is a constraint on the fight against organised crime".

She revealed that one multi-disciplinary team has been set up to investigate assets, which identifies, locates and seizes assets connected with crimes, both inside Mozambique and abroad. In the latter case, it must cooperate with the asset recovery offices of other states.

It is imperative, said Buchili, "to guarantee that the proceeds of crime are not re-invested to commit new crimes and to contaminate the economies of states".

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