There are two articles involving the UK’s High Commissioner, His Excellency Gregory Quinn that I wish to comment on.
The first was published on Sunday, August 26, in the newspaper that no one reads, and captioned: “Progress seen in security reform”; and the second was published the day before in the Kaieteur News with the caption: “UK getting “value for money” in SOCU’s operation – British envoy”.
On the first, let me make it pellucidly clear that I support the High Commissioner’s concerns that “…there is an understanding that the police infrastructure is not always as good as it should be, and some of the conditions that ranks are living in are really not what they should be and you know you have to treat the ranks and officers properly; and I think that can be done very quickly and very easily.”
He is right on this one. For although the PPP/C government had secured two large loans (Citizen Security 1 and 2) to alleviate this problem, the implementation has been slow by the Granger administration.
I also agree that overall standards of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) need to be raised, and that “police officers and ranks are adequately accommodated, trained and equipped.”
These are the undisputed urgent needs of our men and women in uniform, as urgent as providing them with a decent livable income to reduce the temptation of taking bribes or getting involved with more lucrative but illegal activities.
I urge the Granger administration to honor its campaign pledge to the police, and give them the 20% increase they were promised.
In the article, High Commission Quinn expressed concern that a security plan prepared by the United Kingdom’s Security Reform Programme Senior Adviser, Colonel Russell Combe has been gathering cobweb on President Granger’s desk since last January.
But despite this, it seems that this program is being “rolled out at a slow pace”.
This is alluded to by the High Commissioner who said he is aware that “progress is being made in the areas of training, finance, aviation, and maritime.”
As a member of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee of the Security Sector, I have repeatedly asked the Minister of Public Security about the Combe’s report, and all he can say is that it is with the President and will be released soon.
Minister Ramjattan must now explain to the nation, how is it that a foreign representative have knowledge that the Combe Security Plan is being “rolled out at a slow pace” when it has not yet been given the approval of Cabinet, and the document has not been seen nor approved by Parliament for its implementation?
In the Kaieteur News article of August 25, the British High Commissioner is reported to have made a statement which I find to be very curious and frankly, disturbing.
He said the United Kingdom is getting value for money as it relates to the operation of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), under the guidance of his countryman and Financial Investigations Advisor to SOCU, Dr. Sam Sittlington.
Responding to questions from the press at his residence on Friday, August 24th, Greg Quinn is quoted as saying, “It is not for SOCU to decide when and if a prosecution should move forward and I KNOW (emphasis mine) that SOCU has done a lot of investigation on a whole range of subject… all SOCU can do is put forward good cases and I think if you ask Sam he would say they have been doing that. SOCU is doing its job.”
Mr. Editor, in a previous letter, I had expressed concern over the level of interference in our domestic affairs by the UK High Commissioner and Dr. Sittlington, whose role is still undefined as he has been seen active in operational investigations.
The UK Envoy spoke as though he knows about the quality of the work being done by SOCU. Apart from the fact that he is Sittlington’s friend, any reasonable person would assume that Quinn could only make that assessment if he has access to confidential documents informing him on the extent and contents of investigations taking place at SOCU.
Considering most, if not all of the cases being investigated by that agency targets former PPP/C ministers and officials, this raises the question as to whether any foreign representative would make this their business, and the extent to which High Commissioner Quinn is involved.
The UK High Commissioner speaking so candidly on operational security matters can only be considered political interference and an intrusion in the affairs of a sovereign nation, which is being ignored by the APNU+AFC government, for it aids their objective of the political witch-hunt of former PPP/C officials.
Is Gregory Quinn doing this on his own? Or is it his way of appeasing London to justify the cost of Sittlington’s advisory role here and going after political opponents to gain favour with the APNU+AFC government?
As he seems interested in our security affairs, does the UK High Commissioner know that the APNU+AFC government has hired several lawyers friendly to the APNU+AFC Administration as Special Prosecutors who now benefit from the $100 million the government set aside to pay special prosecutors, while at the same time, cuts the DPP budget, compromising her ability to go after the real hard core criminals- murderers; armed bandits and rapists that are terrorizing the entire nation on a daily basis?
I wonder what are the views of the UK High Commissioner on these issues since he is not shy to comment on other security matters?
PPP/C Member of Parliament
Member of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee
of the Security Sector
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