Pubdate: Mon, 18 Feb 2008
Source: Stabroek News (Guyana)
Copyright: 2008 Stabroek News
Author: Nigel Williams


Businesses Not Showing Interest - Rohee

The business community has shunned the government's crime stoppers 
programme, one of three major security projects which were introduced 
to the nation over the past three years but are yet to take off.

Two other projects, the ambitious drug strategy master plan and the 
Citizen Security Programme have also had a long shelf life. On 
Wednesday the latter will be finally launched.

In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) 
recently, Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee acknowledged that the 
administration had been pushing for the Crime Stoppers Programme to 
be implemented but it has not been receiving support from the private 
sector. "It's not because of the lack of will on the government part. 
I have been aggressively pushing for this programme to come on stream 
but you see, the Crime Stoppers Pro-gramme internationally, is based 
on the involvement of the private sector," Rohee was quoted by GINA as saying.

He said the administration gave leadership in terms of helping to 
guide the framework or the various steps that are required for the 
Crime Stoppers Programme to be established. "We have done these 
things. Government has brought the stakeholders together, given them 
the necessary guidance and the pathway both domestically and 
internationally to get the programme established," the security minister said.

Rohee observed that the businessmen had a mindset of paying more 
attention to their business entities than to matters such as these 
"but I think there is a lack of an appreciation of the interaction 
and interconnection between their businesses and this programme," the 
Home Affairs Minister reasoned.

The Home Affairs Minister said if the businessmen are yet to 
understand the importance of the programme then it's a lack of will 
and noted that as Minister of Home Affairs he may have to engage the 
community once again, to ensure the programme is launched as soon as possible.

The programme facilitates the passage of information regarding 
criminal activity from citizens to the police, based on anonymity and 
it has been successful in reducing and preventing crime worldwide. 
Tipsters are paid for information through banks without the identity 
of the tipster ever being known. Last year Rohee had announced that 
the programme would have been launched in August.

Noting the $50M reward that has been offered for Rondell Rawlins, 
Rohee said if the Crime Stoppers Programme was in place with the 
anonymity of the phone number, it could have contributed 
significantly to persons having some level of comfort and confidence.

Since the January 26 slaying of 11 people at Lusignan, the 
administration has been scrambling to accelerate the various security 
schemes and strategies that had been left on the shelf for the past 
several years.  Considerable efforts are being made now to activate 
the three million pounds Sterling British-funded Security Sector 
Reform Action Plan, which promises sweeping reforms in the Guyana 
Police Force (GPF) among other areas. However, while the 
administration moves with speed to implement this plan, there are 
others sitting in the offices of security officials which have not 
gotten off the ground.

Back in July last year Rohee announced that the crime stoppers 
programme would have been launched the following month, but this fell 
through. At the time of his announcement last year GINA had reported 
that the local steering committee had been able to meet the necessary 
requirements for the launching of the programme.

"The last report I received from our steering committee is that they 
are on track to meet the August deadline.  All things that were 
requested also from the other committees have been met," GINA quoted 
Rohee as saying then. The business community was to play a critical 
role in providing the rewards for citizens who would call in with 
vital tips on the commission of crimes and criminals.

The programme works on three components: the community, the media and 
the police with the residents forming the foundation. The media's 
role is to assist in highlighting unsolved crimes and they can also 
regularly promote the special Crime Stoppers telephone numbers.

The crime stoppers programme is currently on stream in 20 countries 
including the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada, the 
United Kingdom, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. If one witnesses or 
knows about a crime, a 1-800 toll-free number will be made available 
for that person to call. Whoever is reporting the crime will never be 
required to provide their name, or to testify in court. A secret code 
number will be given to that person at the time the report is made 
and that would be the basis by which the person would be identified. 
Depending on the level of action taken, such as an arrest or 
conviction, or the number of items seized and their value, the size 
of the reward the person receives would be determined.

Crime Observatory

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the $20 million IDB-funded Citizen Security 
Programme, which seeks to help Guyana arrest the rise in violent 
crime and insecurity, will be launched after being in the public 
domain since 2006. The programme will help strengthen the Ministry of 
Home Affairs and modernise the Guyana Police Force.  It will also 
promote social development in disadvantaged communities in Regions 
Four and Six.

A key part of the programme, which was outlined last year by Rohee, 
is the establishment of a "crime observatory" to monitor trends in 
crime and violence and collect the data the Ministry of Home Affairs 
and the GPF need to plan, implement and evaluate citizen security 
policies and strategies. The programme will include technical 
assistance, training and computer hardware and software to create the 
information system and to support the development of staff of the 
MoHA's policy and research unit. It will also promote improvements to 
the ministry's overall administration and performance.

With regard to the GPF it will receive support for training in crime 
investigation and detection, information management, case management, 
recruit training, neighbourhood policing, and human rights. Resources 
will be provided to build and equip a crime laboratory and training 
facilities, remodel police stations and develop a new urban traffic 
management plan, according to the project document.

The programme will also help the GPF improve its internal 
organisation and administration, including planning, budgeting, 
accounting, auditing, human resource management and procurement as 
well as assist the police in developing partnerships with 
communities.  At present, Khemraj Rai is the coordinator of the 
secretariat, replacing Denise De Souza.

Government had initially promised to launch the programme at the end of 2006.

Master Plan

Launched since 2005 with much fanfare, the National Drug Strategy 
Master Plan is still to make an impact, although Rohee has promised 
to do a review of it next month. Weeks into his role as Home Affairs 
Minister, Rohee had told this newspaper in an interview that he would 
be "tough on drug lords". He said he had "a large reservoir of 
contacts which could be used to explore possibilities of cooperation 
in the fight against crime," and pledged to deploy his considerable 
political and international experience with neighbouring countries. 
Two years later not much has happened in those areas. Cocaine 
continues to pour though Guyana's porous air and maritime ports.

The $650 million strategy seeks to amend laws dealing with electronic 
surveillance and wiretapping. It provides for expert scientific 
evidence from foreign jurisdictions being made admissible in the 
local courts. Several security experts had told this newspaper that 
the wiretapping legislation would help reduce the drug problem and 
could contribute in large measure to the arrests of many drug dealers.

The plan also encompassed increasing the joint enforcement presence 
at the nine ports of entry, the establishment of an enforcement port 
near the Orinoco Delta and other locations and increased surveillance 
at the Bartica, Anna Regina, Linden and Enmore airstrips, none of 
which has materialised.

The strategy had envisaged that in the first year, the secretariat 
would be established and funding sources - local, bilateral and 
multilateral would be identified.  The Joint Intelligence 
Coordina-tion Centre (JICC) was also to be operationalised in the 
first year and the Immigration and Criminal Investigation Department 
computerised. It was only recently government set up an inter-agency 
task force on drugs and guns. The task force comprises members of the 
GPF, army, Guyana Revenue Authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit, 
the Custom Anti-Narcotics Unit and other bodies.

Additionally, the drug plan calls for the completion of outstanding 
legislative requirements covering narcotics, money laundering and 
food and drugs, together with the relevant regulations. Work has 
begun in this area.
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