PNC/R not anti-police, but anti-target squad - Hoyte
Stabroek News
April 19, 2002

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Leader of the PNC/R Desmond Hoyte has rejected the statement by government that his party was anti-police and was promoting hostility towards the Guyana Police Force.

"The party has always maintained that the overwhelming majority of policemen and women are decent, honourable people who would like to do a professional job, but sometimes their best efforts are frustrated by gross and unlawful political interference," Hoyte said at a press conference yesterday at Congress Place.

He pointed out that the PNC/R has criticised one section of the force--the Target Special Squad (TSS)--and would continue to do so. "This gang has brought disrepute to the main police force and is being fostered and protected by the PPP/C for its own sinister and narrow political purposes," he charged.

The PPP/Civic issued a statement last evening which described Hoyte's statement as irresponsible and an attempt to do damage control after the PNC/R's use of "hooliganistic elements and terrorist tactics to achieve its political objectives have been exposed."

Hoyte said there was no doubt that the force needed to be reformed to meet the challenges of modern society and stated the PNC/R had repeatedly called on government to review the structure, methodology, functioning and conditions of service of the force. He stated that in any new dispensation extra-judicial killings and brutality could be no part of professional policing.

Hoyte asserted that his party always cooperated with the honest, professional members of the force. He said the PNC/R would continue to do so and urged police personnel to resist being manipulated to serve political ends.

Hoyte described as comical, the recent statement by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, that the disbanding of the TSS would interfere with the force's ability to stop the escalation of crime. He said it was also an insult to the rest of the force.

He pointed out that TSS comprised less than three per cent of the force. He wondered aloud about the role of the Tactical Services Unit, the Criminal Investigation Department and other members of the force deployed at police stations throughout the country. "For Luncheon to imply that these policemen are all impotent to deal with crime must frighten the wits out of all law-abiding citizens," he said.

Hoyte reiterated his party's condemnation of the recent shooting to death of a police sergeant on the East Coast Demerara (ECD). He warned, however, that the incident must not be used as an excuse for the TSS to go on a rampage in the ECD villages.

Hoyte disclosed that the party has learnt that the police have uplifted a detailed plan of Buxton and cautioned against any ill-advised action against Buxtonians.

Hoyte declared that the ruling PPP/C has continued to ignore the flourishing drug trade, which, he said, was the main source of the crime situation in Guyana. He stated that the "indiscriminate" and "irresponsible" issuance of firearm licences by Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, has come back to haunt the PPP/C administration.

"Too many guns, both legal and illegal, are in the system and political interference has prevented the police from pursuing and bringing to justice those who ply the illegal gun trade," he said. He claimed that in December 1997 there was a cover-up of the finding of an arms cache, which included self-loading rifles, pump action shotguns, handguns, and grenades. The man in whose home the cache was allegedly found was not charged and released from custody.

Hoyte said the guns were not taken to the police armoury but simply disappeared. He also recalled that government promised an inquiry to ascertain how police weapons found their way into the cache which notorious bandit Linden London had in his possession when he was gunned down in February 2000.

"The PPP/C regime refuses to acknowledge the enormity of the problems facing our country at the moment," Hoyte said. "Instead of brainstorming nationally to come up with policies to rid Guyana of the scourge of drugs, poverty and crime, it is busily concentrating on weaving a web of lies to distract the nation from its ineptitude and failures."

He remarked that instead of ensuring the force became a modern and professional entity, government has resorted to defending the TSS, which, he said, continued to operate outside the law.

The PPP/C said the PNC/R was seeking to divert attention from its internal leadership wrangling and rejection from outside and within the PNC/R of its open support for and harbouring of criminal elements. It charged that criminal elements have confessed to running into Congress Place - the PNC/R's headquarters - to hide during the 2001 post-elections unrest. Further, on elections night several PPP/C election agents were kidnapped and taken to Congress Place where they were beaten and interrogated.

The PPP/C said Hoyte's statement was "just a rehash of the undiluted vitriol being mounted by its [PNC/R] operatives in sections of the media who seem to be in control of the PNC/R's agenda. As more and more evidence continues to emerge, Guyanese are increasingly speaking out against its anti-police campaign."

The PPP/C said the PNC/R needed to ask itself if it was really committed to peace and unity in Guyana. "Do its actions and statements represent so-called support for law and order? Is the country benefiting from its campaign against the police and lawmen?" the PPP/C asked.

The ruling party said that in the face of tremendous provocation and interruption of law and order it always demonstrated the political maturity to act in the interest of national unity, peace and progress and would continue to do so at all costs.