CORRUPTION AND SILENCE IN GUYANA
For a long time, a very long time, there have been rumours about the degree to which drug cartels may have compromised the Guyana Police Force.
There was even the well-known case in which a recording was circulated which indicated that the phone of a senior police officer was hacked and his conversations recorded. This was the greatest breach of security in the history of Guyana and yet when it was made public, the noises were about the authenticity and legality of the recording and not about the fact that the very agency which was supposed to be entrusted with securing the nation had been penetrated.
There has been, recently, another round of damaging allegations leveled at the Guyana Police Force. This time, the allegations have come from within the organization and indicated that there are certain ranks who may be enjoying too close a relationship with persons in the drug trade. There was a further allegation that some members of the police patrol may even be working for certain drug lords and doing their bidding.
Now these are very serious allegations and they were reportedly made at a high-level meeting within the Guyana Police Force. So, it is not a case whereby these allegations were made in idle talk or gossip. Further, it was reported that the person making the allegation had identified select individuals who it was claimed have been driving to work in expensive vehicles. So, the allegation went further, therefore, by claiming that these things were happening right under the noses of the top brass of the police force.
The contents of the meeting at which these allegations were made found their way into the public domain. The most immediate reaction by the hierarchy of the Guyana Police Force should have been for an investigation to have been ordered. This has reportedly been done, except that the very person who made the allegations has been formally written to asking him to produce the evidence he has.
This was followed by a statement from the Guyana Police Force expressing concern with the report that appeared in the press. Another statement recently followed. This time it originated from the Guyana Ex-Police Association.
Instead of limiting itself to supporting the calls made elsewhere for an investigation, this association has tried to draw its own conclusion about the allegations.
The political directorate in turn has expressed concern about the seriousness but it seems as if it is prepared only to have an internal investigation of the matter.
There is nothing wrong with an internal investigation. In fact, it would be far more worrying if the police force found itself in a position whereby it could not investigate itself. The police therefore have to demonstrate that they have the ability to conduct an impartial investigation into the conduct of their own members.
The issue is why is the person who made the allegations – an extremely senior rank with years of service and experience – the one who seems to be facing a lot of criticism and fire. One would have expected that it would have been those individuals at whom fingers were pointed who would have been facing more pressure.
The political directorate has to intervene and put an end to what is taking place. There may be other senior officers who may be willing now to speak, but when they see how one of their colleagues is being isolated and publicly badgered, they may be reluctant to come forward.
It is time for the government to act and to ensure that the direction in which things are proceeding is reversed. The government must insist that the concerned officers be interdicted and that the necessary steps be taken in this regard.
They must also insist that instead of the person making the allegations being the centre of attention, the relevant agency within the Guyana Police Force conduct its own investigation. Based on the findings of that investigation, a decision will have to be made as to whether a full scale commission on inquiry is needed.
There is no need for those government officials who have been silent to break their silence. Some of them have spoken, but given the gravity of the allegations, the Guyana Police Force faces a test of confidence. There is a need for swift and decisive political action.
To do otherwise would be to signal to renegade elements within the Guyana Police Force that they are not at great risk of dismissal because of their activities. This signal endangers the security of the nation.
It is time for those members of the government who have not yet spoken out, to break their silence and demand that the accuser not become the object of attention, at least not more than the accused.