Pro-active legislature necessary for crime fighting
News or even a rumor about crime is depressing
Guyana Chronicle
July 25, 2003

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In a country where Guyanese grew up knowing and looking out for each other, and where people could leave their homes unlocked and return to see everything intact, the grisly crimes that we experienced in the last year and a half were especially traumatic.

Statistics indicate that a large percentage of the violent crimes that rocked our land were drug-related.

Gangs rivaling each other did so with movie-style brutality, kidnapping then murdering gang operatives or simply “passing them out” in drive-by shootings.

In other instances, gangsters walked in to a building or up to “offenders” on a street corner, guns in hand, shot their rivals to death, then returned calmly to their waiting vehicles and drove away, confident that they wouldn’t be pursued.

As part of their plan to run things, gangs murdered police officers with impunity, apparently calculating that by doing so they’d put law enforcement on the defensive and be able to execute turf control measures at will.

It’s only natural that the Guyanese people would become weary of this mayhem and demand that their law enforcement officers and legislators do something quickly, effectively and sustain-ably, to stem the tide of crime in the country.

Until very recently, the PNCR expressed little public support either for the police or for any measure that Government announced to address violent crimes. More often that not, the PNCR was heard or interpreted to say that the perpetrators were making a valid point: crime was their way of rejecting their misfortune of being deprived, discriminated against, marginalized.

Crime, they said, called attention to the failure of the government to address poverty and to develop the country in ways that would negate criminality.

Guyanese therefore breathed a sigh of relief when the PNCR announced that it supported the Maritime Drugs Trafficking (Suppression) Bill in principle.

But they’d breathed a sigh of disappointment after the party yesterday failed to vote for the passage of the Bill.

PNCR MPs contended that the Government was seeking to have the Bill approved not merely because it was interested in curbing illicit drug trafficking and drug-related violent crimes, but because it was seeking to facilitate the desire of the U.S. Government to have American citizens precluded from prosecution by the ICC.

We’re a bit puzzled by this argument because crime, according to one encyclopedia, “is the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited and punishable under criminal law.”

We feel that as a constitutional opposition enjoying the support at least 40 percent of the country’s populace, the PNCR has as much responsibility as the Government to see that Parliament is pro-active and that it plays a pro-active role in ensuring peace and orderliness in our society.

Much has been said about the role of Government in fighting crime, especially after the publication of reports and studies, such as those by Regional Police Advisor Paul Mathias, the Symonds Group, and retired British judges Esyr Lewis, QC and John Baker, on improving police work, the efficiency of the judiciary, and the effectiveness of both.

Not so much talked about but just as, if not more, important is the role our parliament should play in crime fighting. The constitution gives parliament the power to make laws that are necessary and proper for government and its agencies to carry out their responsibilities.

So, in the same way that we demand that government take bold and firm action to deal with crime and the other ills of society, the opposition must have the fortitude to support the passage of laws that will ensure that protection and security, vital to a nation achieving growth and development, are seriously addressed.

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