Doing the necessary in anti-crime battle Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
August 10, 2002

Related Links: Articles on politics
Letters Menu Archival Menu

AT LAST, after many killings, hijackings, armed robberies and criminal violence in the villages, towns and our capital city, Georgetown, the main opposition People's National Congress Reform seems ready to engage in some kind of dialogue to combat the wave of crime that has been plaguing Guyana, particularly since the beginning of this year.

Some may have good reasons for being cynical about the call for "national dialogue" as made by PNC/R spokesmen at the party's press conference on Thursday.

After all, it would be the PNC/R's own convenient silence at times on criminal activities, some often difficult to distinguish from acts of civil disturbances, when specific public denunciations were required, that may have contributed to this cynicism.

But it is better late than never. Particularly in the face of the recklessness of the lawless among us, with armed and sophisticated criminals apparently being provided with sanctuaries by well-connected collaborators.

The very fact that the PNC/R has found it necessary to publicly express its understanding of the value for "national dialogue" on the frightening crime situation that is now forcing some villagers out of their own home villages, should be taken as a positive move.

It is known that the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic, as General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar reminded in his response to the PNC/R's call, had much earlier urged a bi-partisan approach to deal with the challenges posed by the criminals at large.

Distressing reminders
Now is not the time, however, for spokespersons of either the PPP/C or the PNC/R to engage in recriminations or in apportioning blame.

And most certainly not to attack the security forces, as one PNC/R representative did at the press conference, in questioning the role of the Guyana Defence Force.

The arson and wounding of villagers committed by gunmen in the Buxton-Friendship area, and the subsequent brazen grenade attack on the headquarter operations of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, are distressing reminders of the challenges facing this nation from criminals and their collaborators.

It is not pious or tongue-in-the-cheek statements that the situation requires, but concerted action by the security forces, supported at all levels of the society, to cleanse this nation of the unprecedented crime plague.

The Government has done well in now moving to stiffen legislation to help in arming the courts to deal more effectively with convicted criminals and those who have made a virtue of their commitment to misuse of the electronic media to spread race hate and encourage violence.

The 'national dialogue' called for by both major parties could prove more appropriate, we feel, if there is a resumption of the high-level dialogue between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte, suspended some months ago by the latter.

Perhaps the possibility of this happening may follow next week's biennial conference of the PNC/R.

Civil society and the Government must not, however, wait on the outcome of the PNC/R's congress to do what they consider essential in the fight against lawlessness and criminal violence.