British help to train Swat team

Guyana Chronicle
April 26, 2003

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GUYANA is to receive help from the British in the training of a SWAT team, a special force to support the existing law enforcement agencies in maintaining law and order, but special and suitable weaponry has to be obtained before training is to begin.

This disclosure was made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Guyana Police Forces Annual Officers’ Conference held at the Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary on Thursday under the theme: “Staying Together in the Fight Against Crime”.

Last June President Jagdeo announced Government’s intention to establish the SWAT Team, along with several other measures to combat the rising crime rate.

This team will be a large enough group of specially trained officers and ranks, who will respond mainly to these new forms of criminal activities.

The decision to establish such a team was taken to respond to the changing nature of crime in Guyana and the Region.

The President had said that international help will be sought to set up the SWAT Team. To date the British Government responded in the affirmative, however, they have stipulated that certain conditions have be met before they begin training.

“Why is the SWAT team not being trained? This is simply because the British said that they are not going to use our equipment to do the training; they would not use the AK-47. We have to get new weapons, different types of weapons”, the President explained.

He noted that “we get a lot of assistance from abroad and we are grateful for that support, and we receive a lot of assistance from the British and from the Americans”.

President Jagdeo also pointed out that Government has sought assistance from overseas Governments eight months ago to deal with the recent re-emergence of kidnappings in Guyana.

“Have we sought help on this matter? I saw someone criticizing the government for not requesting FBI assistance before the kidnapping of the American diplomat. Even the Stabroek News in which the letter appeared some time ago, recognised that a request was made over eight months ago to deal with the kidnapping because it was a new phenomenon in Guyana and we wanted expert help to deal with this issue”, he said.

But Government was referred to private investigating agencies when the US Administration was approached for help.

Government is concerned about the rising incidence of kidnapping in Guyana and to this effect, had made moves to address the emerging problem.

Recently, Guyana has witnessed an increased number of kidnapping, something which was rare in the 1990s.

In response, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced a Kidnapping Bill 2002-Bill No. 15 of 2002 at the 1st Sitting of the National Assembly of the 2nd session of the 8th Parliament of Guyana, held at the Ocean View International Hotel, Georgetown.

Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Ronald Gajraj on Government’s behalf presented the Bill which instituted an Act to provide for the punishment of the offences of abduction, wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement for ransom and other related offences.

In the Act, an abductor is said to be a person who by force or fear compels, or by any deceitful means induces a person to be removed from a given place. The Bill proposed a fine of $750,000 plus imprisonment of five years for any person found guilty of this offence.

A person guilty of wrongful restraint is one, according to the Bill, who obstructs another person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has the right to proceed. Such an offender is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for three years.

A person is guilty of wrongful confinement when he/she restrains another in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits. The Kidnapping Bill outlines a punishment whereby the offender will be liable for conviction and a fine of $10M along with imprisonment for a period of not less than 15 and not exceeding 20 years.

Persons who are guilty of collecting ransom after kidnapping an individual may be liable to pay a fine equivalent to the sum collected in ransom or a fine of $7M, whichever is higher, together with a jail sentence of not more than 10 years. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY - GINA).

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