A worrying situation

August 5, 2012 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, My Column 

A few weeks ago there was a spate of robberies and at the centre of them was the now dead Randy Morris. He seemed to be any and everywhere. He was identified, and pretty soon, as soon as there was a robbery the law enforcers would say that they knew the perpetrator.
Morris is now dead but the robberies continue, albeit with lesser frequency. The other day the people at the America Street Digicel outlet took security for granted and they lost heavily. The people almost walked into the building and cleaned it out. The security cameras were rendered useless because the perpetrators were bright enough to remove the necessary hardware.
No one was hurt because the place was burglarised when no staff was there. This was not the case last week when three men entered a residence under the pretext that they were Customs officers. They killed one of the occupants in their robbery bid and as far as I know, they continue to elude capture.
I take a backward leap to the decision by the government to review the issue of the death penalty. The United Nations wants to see an end to the death penalty because the purists see it as cruel and inhumane.
However, there are those who believe that it is a deterrent. When the issue was raised with Desmond Hoyte, the then President, he insisted that it was a deterrent because the person never killed again. The United Nations pushed the thought that it was the ultimate, and if the person executed was in effect innocent, then that person had no recourse.
Both arguments hold water, but in Guyana there is the side of the argument that in the absence of the death penalty, people were in increasing numbers pushing the limits, because they know that come what may they may spend a few years in prison, even if the sentence is life imprisonment.
When people started kicking in the doors of their victims and not only robbing them but also killing them, Desmond Hoyte made no bones about reinforcing the idea that a man’s home was his castle. He hanged the perpetrators and in a hurry the ‘kick down the door’ crimes ended. That was proof that the death penalty, when executed, was a deterrent.
But for all this, the Guyana Government is to engage in consultations with the wider society. The reason is that there are organizations that promote the wishes of the United Nations so they quite vocally repeat the mantra, the death penalty is bad, it is inhumane, it robs an individual of his life and it is irreversible.
The result is that more people kill. The last time Guyana hanged anyone was way back in 1996. Since then, gunmen have killed many people, people have killed their spouses with alarming regularity, and young bandits have not hesitated to kill their victims.
There are those who say that these killings occur because the killers know that the likelihood of them being caught is remote. The opponents of the death penalty say that the deterrent lies in catching the killers, but some argue that they are caught and that is how they are executed.
So we come back to what is happening in the society. Undoubtedly, there is a lot wrong in the society. It cannot be that this country is a nation of copycats. Indeed, Trinidad and Jamaica have high murder rates, much higher than Guyana. However, their populations are also much larger.
It cannot be that a weakened economy is the cause, because there are countries much poorer than Guyana, but there are not half as many murders. It has to do with the upbringing of the child and to equally good measure, the drug trade, which is a magnet for young, uneducated men.
The law enforcement agencies have done a lot to strangle the flow of drugs within the borders and have even made numerous busts at the ports of exit. I happened to see sniffer dogs at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport the other day and the dog that I saw, Ike, seemed to know what he was doing. It came as no surprise when two days later there was another significant drug bust at the airport.
After every bust there is usually a killing, because the person who suffers the loss is angry and he would want to blame someone. People have been known to squeal and when they are found out the inevitable happens.
The spate of killings in Guyana is worrisome and something needs to be done. I do not have the solution. What I do know is that the police may need to be even more mobile in order to respond to calls for help. But then again when the attacks come, as was the case of the family who were attacked by the bogus Customs officers, the people had no time to call for help.
People have responded by grilling their homes. Over the past three decades homes have been made to look like veritable prisons, but even these are being breached. We may have to start living with large dogs in our homes, adding to the daily expense of living but then again, why must living be such a chore?

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