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—-security minister seeks info after revelation by former police officer
Amid a spike in gun crimes and with the police seizing some 32 illegal weapons thus far for the year, Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police and former member of the Police Service Commission, Clinton Conway said there is a flourishing illegal gun licensing business in the city.
In a letter to the newspaper last week Conway drew reference to a case which was reported recentyly where a man was charged by the police with uttering a forged firearm approval letter to the police in an unsuccessful bid to obtain a firearm licence. Conway said: “if true, it is shocking. This may be just the tip of the iceberg.” He said the alarm bells should be ringing. “Red flags must be flying. There are rumours that currently operating is a flourishing and illegal multi-million dollars enterprise targeting persons desirous of obtaining a firearm licence. The starting price is G$1M depending on the type and caliber of the firearm requested.”
Conway said it is alleged that the unlawful enterprise is conducted by persons from Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, a house in Robb Street, Young Street, Lamaha Street and Brickdam. “Let me caution SOCU not to send its infamous personnel to speak to me. I will not talk to them. They will encounter a massive wall of silence, because I do not have any confidence in the incompetent ranks from that Unit.” While he said he will not speak with SOCU, Conway said the allegation was already passed on to persons who will remain nameless, but who are both competent and capable of taking corrective action.
Immediately after Conway’s letter was published, Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn urged him to provide the information to the Criminal Investigation Department. “With reference to a Letter to the Editor published in one of the daily Newspapers dated Tuesday May 03, 2022, the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Robeson Benn, M.P notes the allegations made by former member of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Clinton Conway relating to illegalities in the issuance and procurement of firearm licences.
Minister Benn is hereby requesting that Mr. Conway provide the Criminal Investigation Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs with the information he has to aid in ongoing investigations.”
Police have said in the past that most of the illegal firearms seized from criminals in Guyana originated from neighbouring Brazil. Though there is no current data to state whether this has continued, based on the police analysis then, Brazilian-made weapons appeared to be preferred by criminals. Security experts have said before that this is no surprise, as Brazil has a substantial domestic arms industry and, with its proximity to Guyana and the porous border separating the two countries, it is difficult for law enforcers to effectively prevent the interception of guns coming through.
As part of a regional effort to fight gun crimes, last year the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) and the Small Arms Survey (SAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize existing cooperation with the primary aim of reducing gun violence in the Caribbean. The agreement is to support efforts to improve the capacity of CARICOM States to prevent the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons and enhance States’ implementation of commitments under international and regional arms control instruments. It said that particular focus will be on advancing more evidence-based policy to reduce armed violence in the Region. “The MoU comes as the region embarks on an ambitious roadmap to tackle the illicit arms trade and its impacts. We look forward to working with CARICOM IMPACS to achieve the roadmap’s important targets, in particular providing reliable data – with indicators tailored to the region – to support monitoring and evaluation, as well as exploring opportunities for developing sustainable and effective interventions,” the SAS Director said.
Lt. Col. Jones had said then, noting that it is important for everyone to play their part in the fight to stop gun trafficking, which fuels violence by criminal organizations and negatively impacts the Region’s sustainable development. “This partnership reflects our ongoing commitment to working together to reduce illicit firearms violence throughout CARICOM States. Through enhanced evidence-based research, we will be better able to implement relevant policy to disrupt firearms trafficking while strengthening efforts to combat criminality,” Lt. Col. Jones he added.
The first instance of cooperation between the two entities dates back to 2011, and has been followed by numerous collaborative efforts centered on assisting States to implement the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (PoA), the Arms Trade Treaty, and other international arms control instruments.
CARICOM has a wealth of experience in working to prevent the illicit circulation of small arms. Similarly, the Small Arms Survey has worked on regional efforts on gun violence, as well as in other in parts of the world.
The Small Arms Survey is a global centre of excellence which generates impartial, evidence-based, and policy-relevant knowledge and analysis on small arms and armed violence and acts as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and civil society, while CARICOM IMPACS is an institution of CARICOM with primary responsibility for the implementation of the CARICOM Crime and Security Agenda.