Monday, November 2, 2009

Given the excesses of the security forces the gov’t should have welcomed the UK reform plan

Given the excesses of the security forces the gov’t should have welcomed the UK reform plan

Posted By Stabroek staff On November 2, 2009 @ 5:06 am In Letters | 7 Comments

Dear Editor,
Is the Guyana government truly committed to its constitutionally entrenched responsibility to ensure the safety and security of its citizens? The recent decision by the British government to pull the plug on its £3 million for the security reform project is a massive blow to the local security sector and a major setback for citizens.

According to the government spokesperson Dr. Luncheon, “the British want to be chief cook and battle washer”, the government also tells Guyanese that the British proposal infringes on Guyana’s sovereignty. The UK rebutted the Guyana government, and stated that their decision to abandon the project is because the Guyana government would have, drastically, changed the original project. Specific mention was made regarding the scope of the project. According to the British, the Guyana government changed the original project to reflect modernization of the police force, only, as opposed to a holistic reform of the entire security sector as was agreed to earlier by the Guyana government and the U.K.

It is very difficult for Guyanese to accept and understand why the PPP/C government would try to play the power game and risk the successful overhauling of the nation’s entire security system, at a time when the safety and security of every Guyanese is at risk. Dr. Luncheon’s comments in the press leave much to be desired and signalled yet another missed opportunity by the nation’s chief executives to demonstrate to the public that they are serious about putting the nation first. Instead, the government seems more interested in exhibiting some kind of political muscle.

Like many Guyanese I am not, at all, surprised by the government’s actions and their usual follow up activity of a shameless propaganda scheme aimed at wining public sympathy.

The government tells Guyanese that it is concerned about their safety but their report card on crime and security concerns is dismal, as their actions are wholly inconsistent with their claims. Just last August the government ditched a crime and security conference organized by the U.S Southern Command, U.S Embassy, and the Center of Hemispheric Defense Studies, and stated publicly that it will have no part of the conference. A day or two before the start of the conference Dr. Luncheon made a statement in the press stating that the government will not attend the conference because, according to him, the government was not allowed to own the programme. So this political stunt pulled by the government should come as no surprise to any of us who pay attention to the actions of this government.

The question now should be who benefits from sustained criminal activities, perpetrated by a growing criminal enterprise?

How can the government defend its position to only want police reform when the Guyana Defence Force and Prison Service are all in the same dilemma? Is the government satisfied with the work of the joint services, in light of the many reports of torture committed by same?

Does the killing of Bartica gold dealer Dweive Ramdass by Guyana Defence Force Coastguards not create a renewed urgency on the part of the government to reform the Guyana Defence Force? One would have thought that with the torture and resulting murder of Edwin Niles while in custody of the Guyana Prison Service, the allegations of the torture of Patrick Sumner, Victor Jones, David Zammit and others by the security forces the President and government would have been adamant in ensuring that there is a major restructuring of the entire security sector.

Why attempt to restrict the reform to the police only, is the government happy with the claims of torture levelled at the security agency?

Dr. Luncheon tells Guyanese that the fact that the British have no longer committed to funding the project will not hamper its implementation, and that public funding will pick up the slack. What he failed to tell us is how much our unborn children will be indebted to the government as a result of this public funding.

Secondly, since the Guyana government, as can be gleaned from his utterances, could have handled this project why didn’t the government initiate same much earlier, and spare the nation all the massacres and mayhem?

Yours faithfully,
Lurlene Nestor
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