CGID urges Manning to ensure assistance to Guyana will not go to criminals
New York: Today, the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) wrote to the Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, thanking him for his government's decision to assist the security forces of Guyana, with a helicopter and weaponry, in its fight against crime.
CGID President Rickford Burke in his letter, however, urged Prime Minister Manning to secure an assurance from the Government of Guyana that the resources his government will provide is used for the intended purpose of fighting crime, including drug trafficking and hunting down murderers, and will not be surreptitiously turned over to criminals, drug-barons and death squads to enhance their enterprises. He also recommended that the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago be assured that its resources will not be used to engage in torture, extra-judicial killings and other crimes against humanity.
I his letter, which was copied to CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, Burke also observed that "It is critical that the perilous situation in Guyana be given a forum at the next Caricom Heads of Government meeting, in an effort to foster an immediate resolution of the degenerating security situation, while securing the overall safety of the Guyanese people as well as engendering sustainable political solutions to Guyana many multi-dimensional challenges; efforts in which the Government of Guyana has failed miserably to date."
Following is the full text of CGID's letter to Prime Minister Manning.
February 19, 2008
Hon Patrick Manning
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Office of the Prime Minister
Whitehall, Maraval Road
Dear Prime Minister Manning:
The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) notes your announcement that the government of Trinidad and Tobago will provide a helicopter and special weapons for Guyana 's security forces, to assist in their fight against crime. CGID lauds the generosity of the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago as well as its alacrity and readiness in rendering crucial assistance to the people of Guyana during this period of national security crisis.
The Lisugnan and Bartica massacres demonstrate that Guyana's security forces and national security infrastructure have been negligently disregarded and left to degenerate to the nadir, resulting in their collapse. As a result, there is a total breakdown of law and order in the society. Criminal elements with an apparent political agenda, now pose a serious challenge to the state.
Upon its assumption to office in 1992, the People's Progressive Party government ( PPP ) deliberately deprived the Guyana Police Force (GPF) as well as the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) of funds, resources and modern equipment because of unfounded trepidations that the mainly African Guyanese populated forces would use such resources to undermine the PPP government. It effectively diminished and demoralized the armed forces, as a political strategy.
The GPF and GDF are indispensable to the maintenance of law and order and the country's national security. The Institute is therefore pleased that the government of Trinidad and Tobago fully recognizes the critical needs of the security forces of Guyana, for adequate resources and modern equipment, in order to perform their constitutional mandate, and, has stepped up to the challenge, in the spirit of Caricom, by acting decisively to assist. One wishes that the people of Guyana could have benefited from this advanced level of national security consciousness and interest from their government.
In this context, the Institute expresses grave concerns about the ultimate use of the resources which the good people of Trinidad and Tobago will provide to the government of Guyana, as criminal elements turned out to be among the beneficiaries of such previous assistance by the international community. The same is true of the weaponry which has been procured for the GDF.
Guyana today is a dangerous and dubious place. It has emerged as a State with worrying signs of despotism. It is a virtual narco-dictatorship on a rapid path to becoming a full-fledged ethnocracy. The state verifiably engages in torture. There is a belief that the Jagdeo administration has an insidious, oppressive noose around the collective necks of Afro Guyanese and is attempting to drive them into subjugation and impoverishment.
Since 2003, over four hundred African Guyanese young men have been killed extra-judicially or executed by "Phantom" death squads allegedly connected to the ruling party and the government. Former Minister of Home Affairs and National Security, Ronald Gajraj was forced to resign over these allegations. There have been no arrests or prosecutions for these murders and CGID believes that there have been no serious investigations of them either.
CGID, and indeed me personally, steadfastly believe in and support all efforts to foster racial harmony and racial unity in Guyana. However, just as we are committed to racial unity, we are uncompromisingly obligated to promoting racial equality and equal protection under the constitution. The government of Guyana demonstrates deep proclivities to ethnic prejudices. We therefore exhort you to use your influence and diplomatic and other leverage, as a CARICOM leader, to prod the Jagdeo administration to launch an investigation into these killings, just as the Lusignan and Bartica killings must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. This would be an important step towards achieving social justice.
Furthermore, drug-barons are allowed to operate openly with impunity. One individual was arrested in 2003 by the security forces with a sophisticated computer system, which can only be acquired legitimately in a government to government transaction, with the capacity to scan and record telephone conversations within the country. The individual was unjustifiably released from the criminal justice system. Subsequently, in 2006, when the said individual's business establishments were raided by the joint services, he, with impunity, announced that he had tapped the telephone lines of then Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix. He then released several alleged recordings of Commissioner Felix's telephone conversations. The only response from the government was a request of the FBI to verify whether or not one of the voices on the recordings was indeed that of Commissioner Felix.
The said individual was later arrested in Surinam and deported. In route to Guyana, he was picked up by US Federal Agents, on charges ranging from alleged importation of narcotics substances into the US, to conspiracy. At that time, President Bharrat Jagdeo and other Guyanese government officials criticized the actions of the US government and even accused your government of facilitating "renditioning" by the United States. Additionally, President Jagdeo ostensibly angrily disbanded the military intelligence unit of the GDF because it raided this individual's properties without his prior knowledge and consent.
These misguided actions, apparent death squad and other corrupt machinations, continue to fuel allegations that individuals in the government are in bed with criminals and are the direct beneficiaries of the criminal enterprise they pretend to fight.
The US State Department's 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report on Guyana states that "The GOG's counternarcotics efforts suffer from a lack of adequate law enforcement resources, poor inter-agency coordination, and widespread corruption. News media routinely report on instances of corruption reaching to high levels of government that go uninvestigated and unpunished."
The report also said that "The GOG has yet to implement the substantive initiatives of its National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) for 2005-2009. Guyana is a party to the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the 1988 UN Drug Convention) but still needs to pass and implement additional legislation to meet its obligations under the convention."
Consequently, CGID urges that you secure an assurance from the Government of Guyana that the resources your government will provide is used for the intended purpose of fighting crime, including drug trafficking and hunting down murderers, and will not be surreptitiously turned over to criminals, drug-barons and death squads to enhance their enterprises. We also recommend that the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago be assured that its resources will not be used to engage in torture, extra-judicial killings and other crimes against humanity.
Finally, it is critical that the perilous situation in Guyana be given a forum at the next Caricom Heads of Government meeting, in an effort to foster an immediate resolution of the degenerating security situation, while securing the overall safety of the Guyanese people as well as engendering sustainable political solutions to Guyana's many multi-dimensional challenges; efforts in which the Government of Guyana has failed miserably to date.
CC: Dr. Edwin W. Carrington, Secretary General of CARICOM