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Leader of the Alliance for Change and Member of Parliament, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, wants the Guyana Police Force to release its crime statistics.
Efforts by the Ministry of Home and Force to withhold crime statistics does not fool the society as evident in information sharing in the press and online media and advisories issued by foreign governments.
The crime situation is dismal, advised Ramjattan and the situation made worse by the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) response to hoard crime information and adopt a policy of non-disclosure. This is unacceptable and will not work, said the former Minister of Public Security in the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government.
Withholding of weekly statistics from the press will only make suspect the claim there is increasing crime which would further lead to citizens feeling insecure and unsafe, the party advanced.
The United States’ Travel Advisory to Guyana is at level three. At level three persons are asked to reconsider travel to the identified country. The advisory, last updated October 5, in presenting the country’s summary noted that “[v]iolent crime, including murder and armed robbery, is common, especially at night. Local police often lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”
Ramjattan is also calling for policy adaptation that will focus on deterring crime, particularly in those neighborhoods or hotspots where crime is rampant. Further, he is suggesting the use of improved patrols and cameras, and the convening of the parliamentary oversight committee on the security sector as provided for by Article 119 D of the Constitution of Guyana and Standing Order 87 of the National Assembly.
Members of the committee were named early in this 12th Parliament, with Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, as Chairman, said Ramjattan but the government has not seen it fit to operationalise this important committee. The committee has responsibility for examining the function of the security sector and can bring before it the commissioner of police and the heads of the other disciplined services to detail their plans and programmes for their respective sector.
Based on past experiences the former security minister said the administration he was part of was extensively questioned and scrutinised by members of the PPP, including Clement Rohee, Gail Teixeira, Harry Gill, who demanded visits to police stations. It was reminded the PPP Opposition demanded visits to police stations on the coast and interior regions, after which extensive reports about conditions therein were completed by the committee.
Now the PPP is in government, Ramjattan assailed, they are seeking to avoid scrutiny.
The committee’s usefulness, he reminded, is to bring to the attention of Opposition members the status of the security sector, in both policy and administration matters. Given the importance of the committee the AFC leader bemoaned the dysfunction means the security sector is worse off for this absence of scrutiny.