– says fear has once again gripped Guyana
The crime-fighting measures rolled out by the Coalition Administration are being described as inadequate, prompting the return of fear among investors and travellers to Guyana.
This is the view of Rickford Burke, President of the New York-based, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), who warned that the current crime situation has the ability to destabilise the country.
He stated that murders, shootings, armed robberies; domestic violence, rape, car-jacking, felonious assaults and other serious crimes are pervasive. According to Burke, sections of the population live in fear while Guyanese abroad fear being robbed when visiting Guyana.
Burke drew reference to the anti-investment ad, noting that it is fair to criticise the government’s investment or economic policies, but to deter investments and damage the economy is irresponsible and harmful to the national interest.
However, he noted that recent incidents of crime have a similar effect of deterring investors.
“I believe that the crime situation will not only stymie investments, but will destabilise the country if the government does not implement measures to bring it under urgent control. People are fearful of travelling to Guyana once again. It’s damaging the country’s image,” Burke told Kaieteur News.
He highlighted the brazen robbery and shooting death of America Street money-changer, Shawn Nurse aka “Fabulous”, on the February, in the busy Georgetown commercial district demonstrate that criminals are unafraid to strike at any time.
According to Bruke, this brazen attitude is driven by an insufficient deployment of security assets in strategic areas of Guyana.
Burke pointed to the US State Department advisory on November 25, 2017, which warned US citizens to Exercise increased caution in Guyana due to crime. Violent crime, according to the State Department, such as armed robbery and murder, is common. The US noted that local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.
Burke stated that he has made recommendations privately to senior officials in the past on how Guyana can better control crime.
He said apart from recruiting, training and deploying thousands more law enforcement and defense officers, the government also needs to acquire about 1000 percent additional security resources and assets.
“The national treasury cannot be the only funding source for such acquisitions. The government has to be able to mobilise resources from the international community and sympathetic countries. Our diplomats around the world should be tasked with this responsibility,” Burke noted.
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 centres throughout the country. These and other measures will give citizens confidence that the government is competent and deserving of their support,” said Burke.
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.
According to Burke, 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 with high levels of crime and the Venezuela border dispute posing significant threats to stability and national security. Burke noted that hinterland communities are being terrorized by the murderous, Venezuelan gang, ‘Sindicato’.
“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 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the government needs to aggressively tackle crime which has had a destabilising effect,” Burke pointed out.
Burke was born at Bartica, Essequibo and served as a special assistant to former President Desmond Hoyte.
He supported the view that overseas-based Guyanese are being excluded from finding solutions.
“Persons who criticise overseas Guyanese for wanting to see Guyana develop are unenlightened and unpatriotic. There is a larger number of Guyanese who live outside than those who reside in Guyana. More qualified and skilled Guyanese live abroad than those who reside at home. Our political leadership needs to embrace and tap into the diaspora and ensure it is an integral part of national development,” Burke noted.
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