Traffic should be specialised police dept
Stabroek News
January 19, 2002

There is urgent need for a comprehensive upgrading of the country's traffic laws and strict monitoring and enforcement of them to reduce the carnage on the roads, the opposition People's National Congress REFORM (PNC/R) says.

The administration, the party said, should consider discontinuing the old system under which general duty officers are from time to time assigned to head the Traffic Department and then move on to other spheres of duty.

The comments came from Chairman of the PNC/R Robert Corbin at a press conference held at the party's headquarters Congress Place, Sophia on Thursday in the wake of the mini-bus accident which claimed the lives of four teenagers on January 11 in the vicinity of Greenwich Park, East Bank Essequibo.

Extending condolences to the parents, relatives and friends of the young people who died and concern for the well-being of those who survived, Corbin said that the party continues to be perturbed at the tragic loss of so many young lives at a time when the country needs all its human resources.

Corbin said that the party was of the view that the Traffic Department should be organised as a specialised department headed and staffed by persons who have acquired, through appropriate training, relevant expertise in the administration of traffic laws.

Also expressing concern for the untimely death of young people who have been victims of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, Corbin said that for a small country like Guyana to lose some 140 young men through police bullets over the past eight years was "certainly intolerable and unacceptable".

Sympathising with the expressions of public outrage at the shooting of mini-bus driver Brian King by a policeman, Corbin said that King's death was just the latest in a long series of shameful extra-judicial killings by rogue elements of the police force. He said it was clear that the PPP/C government does not intend to restrain extra-judicial killings or grant any redress to the relatives of the victims. This was a dangerous attitude, he said, adding that "the anger and the bitterness that have been welling up in the hearts of aggrieved sections of our society will not be contained forever, and no amount of police guns will quell the consequences".

Drawing public attention to the failure of the regime to fulfill promises that there will be investigations into the extra-judicial killings, Corbin said that the public is yet to hear the results of the promised enquiry into the gunning down of Colin McGregor and the wounding of his brother in their parents' home at Number 60 village, Corentyne on November 14, 1999. Nothing, he said, has been heard about the enquiries promised of a number of brutal assaults on female citizens at various times by members of the Tactical Services Unit. President Bharrat Jagdeo's promise of a full enquiry into the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad (BASS) killings on the Corentyne Coast between August 14 to 16 last year is yet to be honoured, he charged.

Commenting on the shooting by police of 12-year-old Vincent Griffith whose leg was amputated as a result of the injuries, Corbin said that the party had been told that the matter had been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions and nothing else has been heard of it since.

Calling on civil society to raise their voices in protest against the wanton killing of citizens by rogue elements of the police force, the PNC/R said that the atrocities will not stop but will become worse unless civil society demands that they cease.

Congratulating former chancellor of the judiciary Cecil Kennard on his appointment as Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, Corbin said the party supports his intention to make the authority an effective one.

Corbin said that the party would urge Kennard to make a start by getting a list of all of the matters that have been referred to the DPP over the last eight years with a statement showing what has happened to them. He should also obtain, Corbin said, a list of all the matters that the authority referred to the Police Commissioner for investigation and a report showing what has happened to them.

These two lists, he said, would be a good starting point for any action the new chairman might have in mind to make an impact on the quality and professionalism of the service being delivered by the police force.