Criminals and our porous borders
Kaieteur News
February 11, 2007

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On Thursday, Acting Commissioner Henry Greene announced that one of the men wanted by the local police for the murder of former Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh was in a Suriname jail. He said that this man was believed to have committed some crime in the neighbouring republic, having fled there from Guyana.

The Top Cop identified the wanted man as Richard Daniels, called Chucky.

A few weeks before he was apprehended in Suriname, and that is if indeed the person in the custody of the Surinamese is our wanted man, this Chucky was in McDoom, having just returned from one of his sojourns outside this country.

People telephoned the police and the newspapers to inform of his presence. The police raided but failed to catch him. The heat must have been on because Chucky disappeared again, only to surface in a Suriname jail.

He is not the first person to elude the local police by fleeing to Suriname, Cayenne, Brazil or Venezuela.

We had the case of the massive jailbreak from the Camp Street prison when 10 men fled by scaling the fence at the D'Urban Street end of the facility. One died when an off duty prison officer intervened and foiled his escape bid by shooting him. But many, including one called Cletus Jones, alias Little Convict, managed to escape to Suriname.

He certainly was not the only one from among those involved in that break that was never recaptured. Of the set, a few died in Guyana. Word has come that some of the others died in Suriname.

There was the case of Paul Pendleton. He too was wanted by the police. He too managed to flee to Suriname where he met his end—killed and burnt by people whom he offended and deposited not far from a police station.

Andrew Douglas, whose body was found in a car on the East Bank Demerara Public Road, had to be brought back from Suriname. He died accusing the police of kidnapping him.

The list is long of Guyanese who run to that neighbouring country but it is difficult to compile a similarly long list of Surinamese who end up in this country fleeing the long arm of their law enforcement officers.

Is it that our criminals are more adept of escaping from the law? Is it that our police are less efficient of catching people wanted for serious crimes?

The excuse of the porous borders does not hold water because by the same token the Surinamese would have used it to escape their law officers.

And it is not that the two countries share a common language. The only reason has to be that a large number of Guyanese live there so that fleeing Guyanese can readily find succour. And this is where our problems lie. We are not conscious of the nature of security and of our role to help fight crime.

Wanted men roam this country freely. Indeed, they may not be easily recognisable from the photographs published by the police but there are people who must know them. They have to use public transport because they would be afraid to ride alone in some private transport.

On Thursday, the Acting Commissioner Greene spoke about the security aspect of the work.

It is common knowledge that people skip the country in the vicinity of Moleson Creek. One must therefore wonder about the reluctance of the police to patrol that stretch of river. They patrol the city with ruthless efficiency. They should do the same along the borders.

It does not augur well for Guyanese in Suriname. The extent to which the criminals go there is sure to make the Surinamese label even the most honest Guyanese.

We need to protect ourselves by keeping our criminals within our borders and to do so we need to enhance our border patrols. The ease with which people leave for Suriname may not be a bad thing but because of the criminal activity we may have to curtail the very movement of our people, some of whom died trying to sneak in an out.

But one thing begs the imagination. Are the Surinamese more adept at catching fleeing Guyanese? They caught Roger Khan and his bodyguards. Then again, it may be a case of the dog and the egg. Our criminals continue to be criminals wherever they go and end up getting arrested in the foreign land. They are career criminals.