Friday, July 4, 2008

Stark. Stabroek News Editorial.

Stark. Stabroek News Editorial.
30 June 2008

Regardless of who the Camp Lindo murders point to there is one stark and accusing fact that will haunt the government, law enforcement and all of society. In less than six months there have been three mass murders which have claimed the lives of 31 people: in Lusignan while they slept and again in Bartica while others were involved in their daily activities and at Camp Lindo while engaged in mining. In each case the violence was so horrific as to beg the question of what type of savages made up the groups of men who were engaged in these dastardly acts. In each case the killers made clean getaways and there is great doubt as to whether law enforcement is closer to solving any of the three slaughters. In each case the response of law enforcement has been uninspiring and below what is required.

It is primarily the task of the government to rise to the occasion and to protect the people it governs. It cannot say that it has been making all the necessary resources available to law enforcement and if they have failed then that blame doesn’t attach to the government. That argument is insensible. Aside from raising the question about throwing good money after bad, it is the task of the government where its law enforcement arms fail comprehensively and consistently to ring the changes and plot a new direction. This is what President Jagdeo’s administrations have signally failed to do with the dangerous consequence that the rule of law is constantly under the threat.

Lindo Creek now poses the piercing question to the government. How will it up its game to respond to this criminal malevolence? How will it send the signal to the killers that they are known and they will surely be caught? How will it soothe the nerves of the Guyanese populace which have been rattled month after month by new atrocities?

The government must come up with the answers. The measures it took in the aftermath of each of the massacres have been the bare minimum. After Lusignan it agreed to clear the backlands, a measure which did not meet the full needs of the residents of the area and in the end fell short of what was originally planned. After Bartica, two strenuously criticized helicopters were pressed into service here. They have thus far failed to impress and have not been linked to any successful intervention In the aftermath of Camp Lindo President Jagdeo has resolved to bring a US forensics expert to examine the remains of the eight miners. That move is welcome but unfortunately it will not tell us all we need to know and it could well be a stalling tactic. The forensic pathologist might be able to say how the men died and when. He/she won’t say much about who did it. That is the ultimate question and the one that Guyanese want the most to be answered.

The ‘who did it’ has become even more important in the wake of allegations mainly from the camp owner Mr Arokium that the security forces were involved in the murders. At this point it is difficult to array the arguments in favour and against this theory and to prove the case. But it needs to be proved and proved fast. Declarations that it would be outrageous to even suggest that the Joint Services could be involved must be immediately repudiated as no possibility should be ruled out at all.

Under these circumstances, the government should have been hustling to find credible investigators to begin conserving the scene of this crime and surveying the possible scenarios considering the topography of the area and the distances involved. The security services dug quite a hole for themselves by suggesting that Fineman and his gang were on the run after the Christmas Falls engagement with barely the shirts on their backs. Though possible, it would take audacious to new heights to suggest the Fineman gang could easily have been capable of Camp Lindo.

President Jagdeo’s government cannot seriously want to continue with the same old failed law enforcement response. If that is its intention then it will be engaged in gross dereliction of duty and someone should tell it so. One hopes that the stakeholders who sat with him at the Office of the President and laboured to produce a mouse will have the courage to tell President Jagdeo that the time has now come for serious action and that whether it was Fineman or the Joint Services behind Camp Lindo, Guyana is in desperate and urgent need of expert security help.

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