Jul 06, 2011 News
– U.S. State Dept.
Corruption is widely perceived to be commonplace within the Guyana Police Force and overall government in Georgetown.
This is according to the United States of America State Department 2011 report on ‘Crime and Safety in Guyana’.
It was stated that “Many police are reportedly paid off by criminal elements and are alleged to work with the criminals by either assisting or protecting them.”
This fact highlighted by the report is nothing new, since many in Guyana are convinced of some law enforcers’ involvement in criminal activity.
In fact, members of the security forces, including the Guyana Defence Force, are before the courts for major criminal activities – in some cases murder.
In addition, bulletins have been frequently issued for former members of the Guyana Police Force who are believed to be part of criminal gangs involved mainly in the drug trade.
According to the US State Department, the Guyanese judicial system is strained by limited resources and subject to threats and/or bribes, and defendants involved in drug organizations can usually field better attorneys than the Government’s prosecutors.
“As a result, criminals go free on a regular basis. It is a common perception that some police are, or have been, involved in criminal activity,” the report stated.
Touching further on criminal activity, which the report described as out-of-control, the US State Department said that criminals in Guyana are increasingly willing to resort to violence while committing all types of crimes.
It has advised US citizens, “If confronted by an armed criminal, do not argue or attempt to confront him/her in any way. Quickly relinquish what you are asked to surrender.”
The State Department also advised that all foreigners should take precautions when visiting downtown areas in the capital.
“Visitors should avoid wearing expensive jewelry, displaying large sums of cash in public, or otherwise appearing ostentatious. Visitors are advised to make every attempt to change currency at hotels or airports. Visitors are strongly discouraged from exchanging currency on the street, as this is a dangerous practice.”
“There have been reports of criminal incidents in the vicinities of the major hotels used by tourists and U.S. Government employees traveling on official orders. Walking alone outside after dark, even in the immediate vicinity of these hotels, is not recommended. Most violent crimes against foreigners have been confined to the capital. However, there have been a few incidents of violent crimes committed in other parts of the country as well.”
The report was also not complimentary when it comes to the traffic situation in Guyana.
“The use of public transportation, such as mini-buses, by visitors unfamiliar with the country, is highly discouraged. The use of reputable taxis is generally acceptable, such as those offered through the major hotels and tourist agencies, as they are usually safer, more reliable and inexpensive. Travel to the interior of the country requires caution; therefore, travelers wishing to visit the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for safer experiences. There have been reports of tourists and foreigners being robbed while traveling in the countryside, and occasional reports of bandits on rural roads and piracy on the local rivers.”
An official at the Ministry of Home Affairs has assured that a response to the report is forthcoming.
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