Home latest news Govt turns to international experts for help in crime fight
As Guyana’s crime rate continues to climb, the APNU/AFC Government has turned to the international community for help with curbing the crime situation in the country, particularly as it relates to policing its porous borders.
To this end, Guyana signed a security pact with 15 other Caribbean countries and the United States of America, targeting specific areas of criminal activities while building on social justice.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan at an Alliance For Change press conference on Friday said law enforcement in Guyana cannot fight crime alone, hence Government’s decision to join the Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation, an initiative implemented under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
According to the Minster, during a recent visit to Washington, DC, discussions were had with the other member states of the organisation pertaining to issues that are currently plaguing Guyana and the Region as a whole, such as the illicit trafficking of weapons and narcotics.
This area, he noted, is one of three pillars that the security pact focuses on. Ramjattan pointed out that it has been observed that the Colombians, Venezuelans and others involved in the narcotics trade such as Brazil and other South American countries, are now using Guyana as a conduit.
“That is why we have been finding lots of airplanes (in the hinterland) and they are lots of others, we understand, that have flown in and flown out back carrying their stuff to Europe and North America. And now we know, they do drop offs and it’s brought to Georgetown, put in containers and that is how all these containers with rice and so on are being caught with cocaine in other countries,” the Minister stated.
Nevertheless, Ramjattan posited that Guyana was commended by the US State Department for efforts undertaken in tackling the drug trade within its borders, especially as it relates to interdictions by the efforts of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) and the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Narcotics Unit. He added that one such milestone in this regard is the arrest of convicted drug lord Barry Dataram, who had fled to neighbouring Suriname to avoid serving jail time.
On the other hand, the Public Security Minister also revealed that requests were made for assistance in strengthening security at the country’s borders in order to curb gun-smuggling.
“I did identify border controls because more and more the evidence is that from Brazil, we are having more small arms coming in. So whilst we have sharpened up in relation to interdictions of guns coming in from North America through our GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) system and the (commercial) airplanes, we have to also have our eyes in the Brazilian territory which is a very long porous border too,” he outlined.
According to Ramjattan, while such surveillance will be expensive, since it would more or less come in the form of an airplane or satellite imagery, a commitment was given to help Guyana in this area.
“I don’t know but we told them we would like to have surveillance equipment, if it’s not going to be airplanes then drones that can go a good hundred miles and come back at some command centre probably in Lethem… In these exercises of trying to stop drugs and firearms from entering Guyana, if all of that is what we will require, they have made a commitment that yes there will be assistance in that regard,” the Minister asserted.
He went on to highlight that the second pillar of the agreement entails increasing public safety and security through programmes ranging from professionalising the law enforcement institutions and technical assistance in training; and improving the rule of law and supporting the justice sector.
Minister Ramjattan noted that under this pillar, a new patrolling initiative will be introduced in the form of ‘bicycle brigades’. This will be specially trained and physically fit Police Officers patrolling the streets of Georgetown on bicycles.
“Good, strong looking Guyanese girls and boys on bicycles that are already equipped with their training, doing their jobs… They are going to go to Las Vegas, Nevada, for training as how to do it, what to expect whilst being on a bicycle brigade and so on. We have to start doing things like that… because we need more patrols but it is expensive to have 4×4 vehicles,” he posited.
Additional training will be done in the areas of crime scene investigations, testifying and undergoing heavy cross-examination.
Meanwhile, the third pillar is the support of justice sector reform, which will see Magistrates and prosecutors undergoing intense training – something which Guyana has already embarked on.
Moreover, Ramjattan noted that another aspect of this is the promoting of social justice through crime prevention activities. The Minister stressed that the root causes of crime need to be identified and addressed in order to fight crimes. Against this background, the US has agreed to fund a new programme – the ‘Community, Family and Youth Resilience Programme’ – in Guyana. This will see professionals working with youths, ages 10 to 25, to re-direct them from criminal pathways to productive activities.