Getting on top of crime
Guyana Chronicle
June 21, 2003

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STARTING with the Mash Day 2002 jailbreak death of a young prison officer and the critical wounding of his colleague, the last year-and-a-half have been the most daunting for a Guyanese citizenry previously unaccustomed to that spate of violent crimes.

We’ve spoken about it, written about it, cried and agonized and sworn over it.

But, bad as it was - and to some extent still is, Guyana isn’t the only country in the Caribbean to have suffered from the cruelty meted out to the general populace by some of their own.

As the Nation newspaper of Barbados observed earlier this week, CARICOM as a grouping has witnessed “a change in the form and modus operandi of crime.”

In a few of the larger territories - Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago in particular - “we have seen a move towards viciousness, seemingly unprovoked “mafia type” killings, which, if not arrested forthwith are sure to do untold damage to the region’s tourism industry.

To think of kidnappings, hostage taking, women being bound, beaten and raped is alien to the Caribbean way of life.

But it does not stop there. The new trend of not merely raping our women, but going to the extreme of delivering a single shot to the head, unconcerned as to age, whether young or old, signals the time for zero tolerance by our courts.”

Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have had to endure the additional embarrassment of three of the countries on which they rely for substantial foreign aid inflows - Canada, Britain and the United States - issuing ‘no travel’ warnings on our territories.

Very recently, the Nation correctly observed in its editorial on Wednesday, CARICOM member states have begun to recognize tourism as a major source of economic growth.

“The success of tourism does not rest solely on the quality service provided in our hotels, the friendliness of our taxi drivers, the warm welcome of our Immigration and Customs officers, but of equal importance is our need to convince would-be investors that a stable industrial climate, a high standard of governance underpinned by respect for law and order await them.

“At every turn there is talk of a paradigm shift towards unified effort in all we do. Establishment of a Caribbean Single Market and Economy, the Caribbean Court of Justice and so on, should point us to the urgent need for a regional effort to deal with the upsurge in crime.”

We therefore cannot sit idly by, no country in the Caribbean, that is, and as the newspaper put it, “let a handful of misguided bandits put the taxpayers’ money to waste” and continue to tarnish the reputation of our generally peaceful, safe, law-abiding countries.

We join others at home and abroad in commending the role our police and army are playing in combating crime. It’s equally important that we continue to give them all the support they’ll need if they are to continue to do an effective job of returning Guyana to being the haven for investments and home dwelling.

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