Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > Secret Undercover Work

Secret Undercover Work

In Cuba the classic tripartite division of powers proposed by Montesquieu and used in many political systems doesn’t apply. As a result, there is no real independence and division of roles and responsibilities among institutions, which act as a single whole, tend to work in teams, each one covering up the mistakes of all and consequently feeling responsible for the blunders of others.

Perhaps the most common example to illustrate this is the excessive presence of prosecutors and police officers at public trials.

Not infrequently, a police officer appears at a trial and testifies before the court that is was learned through the work of undercover agents that the accused is responsible for the crime. As the agent of the police does not reveal the immediate source of this evidence, his declaration affects the principles of immediacy or direct reception of evidence, orally and publicly, that make up the supposition of transparency that must prevail in the administration of justice.

In our legal proceedings, testimony is accepted provided the source of the news is specified and personal information is provided identifying the person who observed the events.

In the case of secret undercover work generally this does not happen and it is given credibility despite not knowing if the referenced source exists, what are the interests of that anonymous person who is not deposed as part of the legal action in a way in which the facts can be directly perceived. In this example the secretive characteristic of the inquisitorial system prevails.

The so-called Secret Undercover Work comes about for three basic reasons: when the source of the proof doesn’t really exist and they need to manufacture the accusation; to not reveal the identity of the undercover agent or informant; and when they have used illegal methods to obtain information. The last procedure is the worst for giving credibility to the anonymous person, legitimizing them and granting them immunity outside the context of the law.

The most illustrative and terrible case is in reference to drugs. As the traffic is difficult to prove, when it someone has a tiny quantify of illegal drugs equivalent to the crime of illegal possession, if the police decide to prove the accused is a trafficker, it is enough to send an agent to the trial who claims to know through a secret undercover operative that the defendant has been trafficking in drugs for a long time without specifying how the drugs were obtained, the price, the receivers and other details that determine a greater penalty without elements of proof.

The doubt is palpable because of the agents really knew that the accused was a dealer why did they wait to arrest the supposed trafficker. The answer is obvious: they take advantage of the certain amounts of drugs or marijuana cigartettes to fabricate a crime that exists in the police imagination and is proved thanks to secret undercover work and the flawed practices of the judicial system.

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