– one month trial phase to be implemented
By Jarryl Bryan
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan has named the official commencement date for the gun amnesty programme as September 1, with the names of the police stations that will facilitate the handovers expected to be disclosed this weekend.
The Minister, in an invited comment, also disclosed yesterday that the programme’s testing phase will constitute the first month, after which the exercise could possibly see extensions based upon the success rate. This is contrary to reports appearing in sections of the media, stating that the programme would have a two-month trial period.
Preparations for the gun amnesty programme have been in the pipeline since the initial announcement was made. It was an approach targeting holders of illegal firearms, with a view to having them voluntarily turn in their weapons. Should this be done, no prosecution would follow.
However, in light of the fact that members of the public may have little confidence in dealing exclusively with law enforcement officers during the handover process, provisions have been made for religious representatives to be present at the police stations during the period.
Ramjattan stated that this was to ensure that a comfort level is maintained. He also emphasised that the religious representatives would not personally get involved in collecting the firearms.
The Minister disclosed that in consultations with the religious groups, the one-month period had been the time span the groups indicated was best suited for them, since they were in effect volunteering their time. Government had been constrained by this factor, Ramjattan pointed out.
This, he said, was not necessarily detrimental, as the one-month period would allow him to assess the viability/success of the programme and whether an extension is warranted.
The Ministry of Public Security is currently drafting an order detailing some operational aspects of the amnesty, following which it will be publicized in the gazette. It is also understood that churches and faith-based organizations that already collaborate with the police force on the ‘Cops and Faith Program’ will constitute the religious bodies to be brought on board.
The proliferation of guns and ammunitions in the country has long been attributed to the borders, which are considered transshipment points. Individuals have even been busted with their guns shipped in crates, such as the arms cache of high powered rifles, pistols and ammunitions unearthed at the Guyana National Industrial Corporation (GNIC) wharf in May. That crate is said to have come from Miami.
The Government has been working on a security plan that will see an undertaking being launched to combat crime, as well as to improve the police force’s investigative capabilities by rebuilding an efficient Criminal Intelligence System and the Criminal Investigations Department.
In addition, the Public Security Ministry has introduced the 2:00 a.m. curfew system, in an effort to reduce crime and vehicular accidents. The Government has also been communicating with the United States and the United Kingdom, with a view of receiving international help in its crime fighting endeavors.
Also, $21B was allocated to the security sector by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), as part of its budget presentation. Out of that amount, $11.9B will support the operations of the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Prison Service, Guyana Fire Service and Customs Anti Narcotics (CANU), while $9.1B has been budgeted for the Guyana Defence Force.
A few weeks ago, the Minister also transferred several vehicles that had originally been intended for the Community Policing Groups to the Police Force in an effort to boost the force’s response time.
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