Former President and Commander-in-Chief of Guyana’s armed forces, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said the coalition Government’s continuous failure in reducing crime defies logic and commonsense.
He also questioned whether Government’s emergency measure to deploy the Army in wake of a “domestic security threat” is a desperate response to the worrying crime situation, or an attempt to vindicate current Head of State David Granger’s position that the spiralling crime situation is a part of an organised effort to embarrass his Administration.
INCREASE or DECREASE?
Dr Jagdeo, during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Times newspaper on Saturday, posited that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Administration is confusing the public on its posture on the crime situation.
“I don’t know whether in the Government’s eyes if crime is on the increase or decrease because one day you hear the Commissioner of Police and officials say, based on statistics, the crime is falling; the next week you hear the Prime Minister Office say crime is on the increase, they say people who do drugs are now conducting acts of criminality, then the Ministry of the Presidency said it’s on the increase and (on Friday), they said they’re launching this new security measure to tackle the increase spate of crime,” the former Head of State outlined.
He also pointed out that President Granger’s declaration that the crime is part of “an organised effort” sends the message that the crime situation is out of control.
Every month, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been announcing that crime continues to decrease when compared to the same periods last year. However, the general perception nationwide is that crime has spiralled out of control and is ravaging the country.
Jagdeo also questioned the motive behind Government’s decision to deploy the Army at this time.
The Opposition Leader reminded that he had initially suggested Government deploy the Army to aid in crime fighting but was never taken seriously.
More so, he said Government should define what it means by a potential “domestic security threat”.
“If you say to people it’s a domestic security threat and people are conducting crime to embarrass the Government and Police, they’re hoping that some of their supporters will buy that excuse and repeat it and say ‘oh it’s the PPP trying to embarrass the Government’,” Dr Jagdeo posited.
Nonetheless, the former President said the Tactical Services Unit (TSU) should be integrated into the GPF’s crime fighting mechanism since they have an abundance of resources not being utilised.
Furthermore, Jagdeo berated the Government for being sympathetic towards criminals.
“I spoke to a few Policemen and they said to me, ‘we don’t want to get into trouble with the Government because they’ve sent a clear signal that we must not shoot (criminals) and we aren’t going to put our lives on the line,” Jagdeo disclosed.
He opined that the current atmosphere is emboldening criminals who feel the Government is on their side. The pardoning of criminals, the order to Police to “bring them in alive”, and the move to lessen the number of legal guns to civilians are all signals which empower criminals, according to the Opposition Leader.
“Recently, after a series of robberies and a gun owner shot two criminals, the President then came out and said they were too many legal weapons out there and we need to start withdrawing legal weapons… it’s not the legal gun holders who are perpetrating crime and there’s absolutely no evidence that they were renting out their guns to criminals,” he said, noting that this policy is totally ludicrous.
Jagdeo also pointed out that he believes the criminals being pardoned are hardcore ones who are partially responsible for the crime wave in the country.
Moreover, he criticised the Government’s failed policies and apparent ineptitude in addressing this worrying crime situation.
“They failed miserably, and they failed in such a spectacular, unbelievable way that it often defies logic and common sense,” he posited.
He pointed out that all the policies the Government implemented since its assumption to office have done nothing to improve the crime situation.
These include the 02:00h (2am) curfew, the gun amnesty, procuring more horses and dogs, and the dismantling of the community policing groups.
Jagdeo also noted that the GPF’s focus on going after the Government’s political opponents is taking away from resources that could otherwise be used to tackle crime.
He also lambasted the Government for constantly comparing the crime situation now to the 2002 era. He explained that the cases are completely difference since in 2002, majority of the crimes were conducted by “freedom fighters” who were empowered by the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR).
He was referencing the book written by political activist Eusi Kwayana who accused the PNCR of having ties with the Buxton criminal gang.
The Opposition Leader said Government needs to step up its game in making Guyana safe, reminding that when the APNU/AFC were in Opposition, they had boasted of having the best crime fighting and prevention strategy. (Devina Samaroo)