TUC calls for round-table discussion Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
April 13, 2002

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THE Guyanese society must not be allowed to develop to the point where the intentional killing of anyone belonging to or located therein regarded with indifference, or happiness, depending on who is the victim. Murder is a terrible thing and must be treated as such. Where civilians and security personnel, who are charged with our protection, are killed with apparent impunity, all of us must be concerned as we experience increasing feelings of insecurity and vulnerability.

The killing of Superintendent Leon Fraser must be abhorred. Yet many among us either rejoice at his death or make liberal use of the biblical admonition that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. Some may be tempted to condemn those who harbour such sentiments as criminally inclined or sympathetic to criminals. But this would be far from the truth. Procedures designed to determine the cause of death or to investigate the correct complaints against law enforcement agencies and their personnel have been allowed to deteriorate or languish to the point where significant sections of our population no longer have confidence in them or support the law enforcement agencies.

The protection of society cannot be guaranteed by the security forces alone. This much is recognised in current appeal to the populace to contribute information and intelligence which could lead to the capture of those who are suspected of involvement in the death of Superintendent Fraser.

On the eve of the internment of Superintendent Fraser, another incident occurred in the community of Buxton when Shaka Blair was killed.

The Guyana Trades Union Congress has expressed its serious concern on the question of relationship between the police and the public. It is against this backdrop that we engage the Government of Guyana at a meeting on March 8, 2000, when we agreed to the following:
Police/Public Relations

It was decided that against the background of the rising public concern over the increasing numbers of alleged extra-judicial killing that a broad based committee be created inclusive of a representative of the Police Force, to commence discussions on the following:

the issue of the maintenance of the rule of law and including the conduct of the Police Force;

the application of the Coroners Act Chapter 4:03 of the Laws of Guyana as it relates to unnatural deaths;

the improvement of the conditions of the Police Force, including emoluments and training, its modernisation and its relations with the public.

The memorandum was agreed on between the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Trades Union Congress and the signatures of Dr Roger Luncheon and Mr Lincoln Lewis were affixed.

The present is clearly not a time for the trading of blame and invectives. Political capital should also not be extracted from this tragedy. Rather we need to dedicate ourselves to finding ways and means of preventing this cancer of crime and violence from spreading to the point where it overwhelms the Guyanese society. No one should complacently feel immune from the fate, which has befallen Superintendent Fraser and Shaka Blair.

The TUC is appalled by the political posturing and wanton disregard for the legitimate and fundamental rights of citizens.

The GTUC calls for a round-table discussion among all national interest groups namely the Government, the PNC/R, other Political Parties, and civil society organisation (Private Sector, churches, Bar Association, GTUC etc) with a view to undertaking a comprehensive analysis of current events and formulating and implementing permanent remedial measures.

We firmly believe that the alternative to this is a path to chaos and national disintegration.

We appeal to you to let us adopt urgent and necessary measures to save our nation now.
Lincoln Lewis
General Secretary (GTUC)