Crime Will Destabilize Guyana if Modern Laws and Crime Fighting Measures are not Implemented Soon
NEW YORK: The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) is concerned about the inability of Guyana’s law enforcement authorities to arrest violent crime. Murders, shootings, armed robberies; domestic violence, rape, car-jacking, felonious assaults and other serious crimes are pervasive. Sections of the population live in fear. Guyanese abroad fear being robbed when visiting Guyana. Pervasive violent crime prompted the US State Department on November 25, 2017, to warn US citizens to “Exercise increased caution in Guyana due to crime. Violent crime, such as armed robbery and murder, is common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”
The brazen robbery and shooting to death of America Street money-changer, Shawn Nurse (aka “Fabulous”), on the morning of Sunday, February 4, 2018, while doing business in the busy Georgetown commercial district, and other murders, demonstrate that criminals are unafraid to strike at any time. Their bravery is driven by an insufficient deployment of security assets in strategic areas of Guyana. Daily press reports of overseas visitors or senior citizens, business owners and ordinary citizens being robbed at gunpoint and/or killed are damaging to Guyana’s image. It will also hinder Guyana’s nascent ecotourism industry and deters foreign investment.
Currently, residents in the hinterland/forest communities are being terrorized by the murderous, Venezuelan gang, ‘Sindicato’. Villagers, gold miners and business owners in Hosororo, White Water and communities in the Amakuru River, in Region One, and Arau, Mango Landing and surrounding Amerindian communities in Region Seven, have detailed ordeals of Venezuelan gang members crossing the border into Guyana unrestricted. They engage in shoot-outs, demand taxes, cash, gold, house hold items and store inventories, with impunity.
The gang has ostensibly slaughtered several Guyanese miners working in border areas in Venezuela. In January, they reportedly beheaded a young Guyanese miner. The killing was photographed, videotaped and allegedly released on social media. To date the Guyana government has not announced an investigation of these murders or warned Guyanese about the dangers of crossing the border. Residents report no increased security or capture of gang members to restore public safety. The borders remain, open, lawless and dangerous.
In an interview today with veteran Caribbean journalist, Tony Best, CGID President Rickford Burke, said crime fighting measures by the coalition government have been inadequate or ineffective. He added that for a government that is dominated by former security officials, its dismal record on security as well as the lack of accountability for the numerous public safety failures, is astounding and unfortunate. Burke said that “while the Guyanese society is advancing, the nation’s security infrastructure; including laws, assets, resources and the criminal justice system, remained relatively stagnant and antiquated.” He posited that “these are challenging times for Guyana. High levels of crime and the Venezuela border dispute pose significant threats to stability and national security. Simultaneous with these threats to national security is increased world focus on Guyana. Our international profile has been elevated because of imminent oil production. Hence, while the border issue is being addressed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the government needs to aggressively tackle crime which has had a destabilizing effect.”
“Apart from recruiting, training and deploying thousands more law enforcement and defense officers, the government also needs to acquire about 1000% additional security resources and assets. The national treasury cannot be the only funding source for such acquisitions. The government has to be able to mobilize resources from the international community and sympathetic countries. Our diplomats around the world should be tasked with this responsibility,” the CGID head said.
He also called for Guyana’s criminal codes to be updated and existing penalties severely toughened to protect the nation from modern crimes and new criminal techniques. “Security services must dramatically increase patrols on the border and coastal waterways; as well as in the city and other population centers throughout the country. These and other measures will give citizens confidence that the government is competent and deserving of their support,” Burke asserted.
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