Since its ascension to office in 2015, the coalesced A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change [APNU+AFC] Government has maintained its stance on making Guyana a better place. Reflecting on this intended goal of his government, President David Granger speaking at the opening ceremony of the Police Officers’ Conference which commenced on Thursday at the Eve Leary, Georgetown Officers’ Mess, reiterated his vision for the nation.
Among his top priorities when taking office was addressing the country’s crime situation and that continues to be on the front-burner, according to the Head of State.
“I called on the nation, on becoming president in my inaugural address to the 10th Parliament on June 10, 2015, to combine our efforts in defeating the real enemies of our people…Crime, disease, ignorance and poverty – the four horsemen of the Guyanese apocalypse,” pointed out the President.
Even as his Government took up strategic posture to combat the dwindling crime situation, Granger recalled that four months into his presidency, he met with then British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Granger recalled that during the meeting, Cameron enquired about support Guyana was in need of. “In response to his enquiry about Guyana’s needs, I asked first and only for the restoration of the security sector reform action plan which had been rejected by the previous administration,” Granger shared.
Describing crime as “the greatest impediment to human safety and prosperity,” the President made it clear that it is imperative that crime be curtailed if the people of the nation are to be safe and the State is to be secured. He continued, “The control and eradication of crime will protect citizens’ right to life and will permit them to enjoy the rewards of their labour.”
For this reason, Granger underscored that the Security Sector Reform project is and must continue to be a high priority for the APNU+AFC Government. For this reason, he noted that the implementation of the Security Sector Reform is already underway with the support of the British Government.
But ensuring that the project yields the desired results, Granger noted, will involve measures to promote greater probity in the work of the police force, and to ensure greater integrity among officers.
“It will strengthen professional responsibility and oversight of the police force,” said Granger, as he emphasised that Security Sector Reform is being reintroduced with the aim of providing increased security for all citizens.
“By reforming the Force, it will become increasingly capable of crime fighting and law enforcement,” said the Head of State as he shared his conviction that in order to gain public trust, such moves are necessary to first win the confidence of the citizenry.
Since the Security Sector Reform is viewed as essential to maintaining a Force which is committed to the safety of citizen, President Granger warned, “My government will resist any attempt from any quarter to reverse, deter or thwart the reform on which it is embarking.”
But according to Granger, the Security Sector Reform is not a recent invention of his administration. Rather, he disclosed, the need became especially evident during a period of intense criminal violence. He however shared that “the reform project, regrettably, became a victim of political prevarication.”
As he lamented the delayed implementation of security sector reform, Granger made reference to recent media reports which suggest that a covert counter force was brought into existence to perform law enforcement functions. This state of affairs, according to the President, had begged several questions including, “who comprised, who commanded, who controlled that counter force?”
The President is however accepting that based on the constitution, law enforcement functions belong only to the legitimate police force.
“Our country endured two decades of ‘woulda, coulda and shoulda’ without any attempt to deal seriously with the cause of our security problems,” said President Granger as he considered the vast enforcement role of the Police Force.
“The police force is indeed heavily tasked with border policing and counter terrorism, it has to conduct counter narcotics and counter trafficking in persons…it has to counter serious and organised crimes, gun, economic and cyber crimes , deal with traffic offences, public disturbance…” Granger emphasised. He however asserted that the police force can only conduct these functions effectively if its numbers permit and if there are competent ranks who are incorruptible.
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