Crime threatening Guyana's existence - PNC/R
Stabroek News
August 30, 2002

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The PNC/R says the current crime situation is so serious that it threatens the existence of the state and it reiterated its call for a national, non-partisan, consensual response at the highest levels of political and civil society.

The party referred to Wednesday's rampage at Non Pariel, East Coast Demerara, saying that the violations carried out in that community represented a new and disturbing escalation in the deterioration of the situation in Guyana.

The party has also reiterated its call for the disbanding of the Target Special Squad popularly known as the 'Black Clothes' police. Those in the squad found guilty of crimes, the party said, must be disciplined or prosecuted. It said it was convinced that there could be no improvement in the situation without a thorough and effective enquiry into the operations of the police force, which would take evidence and views from all competent persons, including members of the force itself.

Speaking at the PNC/R's weekly press briefing at Congress, Sophia yesterday, Central Executive member, Dr Faith Harding, said that it was a source of great pain for the party to comment repeatedly on the crime situation and the pusillanimous and incomprehensible governmental responses. Harding said that the rampage by criminal elements in Non Pariel and the violations carried out in that community represented a new and disturbing escalation in the deterioration of the situation in Guyana.

On the slaying of Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit deputy chief, Vibert Inniss, Harding said that no member of a society in which senior and respected officers of the security forces were victims of periodic and unsolved murders, could feel safe. Nor could the security forces command the respect and confidence of the community when they appeared to be so vulnerable.

Declaring the current crime situation one of crisis, no matter "what evasions or twittering the government may wish to utter on the matter," she said that the PNC/R believed the crisis was above and beyond the sphere of party political confrontation and manoeuvring.

Citizens of all classes and social groupings are outraged and terrified and cannot feel safe for they can discern no end to the mayhem "nor can they understand the disorganised and ineffectual government responses," she said, which are "a curious and alarming mixture of inaction and propaganda".

The party, she said, feels that the government-organised consultation on crime is another propaganda ploy convened with no intention of solving any problems or taking the country out of the current situation in which criminals run riot, policemen and security guards are shot like targets, bandits roam the streets and drug traders control the agenda. The consultation, hastily organised and without preparation, she said, did not have the level of seriousness and critical focus to solve any problem or bring any relief to the deteriorating situation.

Asked whether the party would take part in future consultations, PNC/R Central Executive Committee member, Deryck Bernard, said the party felt the last one held was a waste of time and similar consultations held in the future would also be a waste of time and resources.

As far as the PNC was concerned, he said, the current crime situation is one of the greatest, if not the greatest threat, to the very existence of civilised governance in the country. He said that when bandits and murderers lose respect for law and order there was no basis for a civilised country.

As to the seriousness of the government-organised consultation, Bernard said that on that occasion the party was given one day's notice and told to send a single representative, which it did.

Repeating the party's call for consultations and negotiations at the highest level in political and civil society, Bernard said the PNC/R would not allow partisan politics to get in the way. The survival of Guyana as a reasonable place in which to live, he said, was under threat because of crime. (Miranda La Rose)