PNC/R urges national consensus on crime
PPP welcomes call
Stabroek News
August 9, 2002

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The opposition PNC/R is urging that there be a national dialogue and consensus on the escalating crime wave, a move yesterday seen by the ruling PPP/C as a turnaround from the PNC/R’s prevailing position.

“The PPP/C pretends to be in control whilst the criminals rule the roost. The country is quickly disintegrating and the criminal situation is symptomatic of that disintegration. Despite the false sense of hope the PPP/C seeks to present, crime continues to spiral uncontrollably to a point where even women are alleged to have taken to masking themselves and robbing hapless victims,” PNC/R’s central executive committee member, Deryck Bernard, told reporters yesterday at his party’s weekly press conference.

The PPP’s General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, told Stabroek News when contacted yesterday that the suggestion by the PNC/R of a national dialogue to address the crime wave was a welcome development.

He recalled he had made a similar suggestion at a press conference recently.

“They [PNC/R] were always giving tacit support and sometimes more than that to criminals. They were calling criminals heroes and putting flags on their coffins and they were encouraging persons to fight the police. For them to come around and suggest this approach is a welcome development,” Ramotar stated.

PNC/R central executive committee member, Raphael Trotman, criticised what he described as a “piecemeal” approach by the government to the crime situation.

“We need to have a complete and comprehensive review of crime and punishment in Guyana. This piecemeal approach of certain policemen wearing different clothes and driving around in unmarked cars is not the answer,” he said.

Trotman also questioned the ongoing role of the Guyana Defence Force in government’s approach to fighting crime.

He said the continuous presence of the army in some communities must be questioned as the move now seems to have some permanence in it.

He noted that the army had launched Operation Tourniquet where it was intended that the police would work along with the army to deal with the rising crime wave. He said the operation has been prolonged and has borne no results.

Trotman said a dangerous precedent is being set by the government in having soldiers involved in civilian situations since they were trained to shoot to kill.

“The situation must be revisited for, if allowed to continue, it would only exacerbate an already volatile situation,” he stated.

Bernard expressed concern over the statements from the PPP/C administration that it intends to propose amended laws to deal with the crime situation, particularly as regards the presence of deportees in the country.

“On the face of it, these proposed laws appear to be both draconian and unconstitutional.

The major issue to be addressed is whether the state can restrict the rights and freedoms of a citizen of Guyana for crimes committed in a foreign jurisdiction and for which the offender had already paid his debt to society,” he said.

Bernard felt that any law which sought to infringe or circumscribe the fundamental rights and freedom guaranteed under the Constitution should be rejected.

He stated that the solution to the deportee problem is not to twice punish the offender but to address it at the source.

Bernard suggested there be a strong national and regional position on the matter of regulating the dumping of “sophisticated” criminals into a country which is in no way responsible for crimes committed elsewhere. (Andrew Richards)