National consultation on crime will prove useless - Hoyte
Says high level conference needed
Stabroek News
August 23, 2002

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The PNC/R does not believe that the national consultation on crime, the first session of which began yesterday at the Ocean View Convention Centre will serve any purpose.

Its leader, Desmond Hoyte told a Congress Place press conference yesterday that in a letter to Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, responding to his invitation for the party to send a representative to yesterday’s session, it pointed out that what was needed was “first of all the convening of a conference at the highest governmental level” not the summoning of a “consultation by a subordinate functionary.”

Moreover, he said that if a consultation was going to be successful, the government would need to hold prior talks with interest groups to get some idea as to what its format should be and to focus on the possible solutions.

Hoyte suggested that some short-term measures that could be looked at include the improvement of the pay and conditions of the police force, training and the restoration of public confidence in and support for the police.

The longer-term measures, he suggested, should be a comprehensive reform of the police force and the identification of the root causes of crime and the measures that would eliminate or ameliorate them.

“That is the kind of approach,” Hoyte said that the party “saw as being fruitful.”

Notwithstanding its reservations, Hoyte said, it named Ivan Peters, a political assistant at the party’s secretariat, as an observer at yesterday’s session.

The party pointed out that it could not “understand the kind of mentality which triggers an allegation that the PNC is complicit in crime and at the same time justifies an invitation to us to attend a conference to solve crime.”

The consultation on crime, which the government said was going to be held across the country, comes in the wake of the call by the opposition parliamentary parties for a national approach to address the rapid escalation of violent criminal activities.

At a press conference last week, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that he had detailed Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, to contact the parties that had called for such an approach. However, PNC general secretary, Oscar Clarke told Stabroek News that he had never been contacted by Gajraj and the first communication he received on the issue was the invitation by Dr Luncheon that he got on Tuesday afternoon.

The consultations are one of a number of initiatives being taken by the government to arrest the increase in crime and are in addition to the June 7 menu of measures the government announced.