September 10 ,2020
Facing a major security crisis just over a month since taking office, President Irfaan Ali announced last evening that he is mobilizing help from the Regional Security System (RSS) of the Caribbean and the UK government to bolster the investigative capacity of the police force as they probe the murders of three teenagers in the village of Cotton Tree as well as the “criminality which led to the disruption of lives along the Region Five corridor.”
“We will seek to use all available tools in not only solving these crimes but also in getting a comprehensive and holistic picture as to all the events surrounding what took place thereafter,” Ali said in an address to the Nation.
Since Sunday, the West Coast Berbice has seen the blockading of roads, attacks on commuters and two murders following the discovery of the mutilated bodies of cousins Isaiah Henry and Joel Henry. Seven persons are in police custody over these two murders.
According to the President, also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he is confident that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will bring the situation to order.
“They have assured me that they will be using all available resources and laws, in keeping with the protocols and guidelines, to ensure that the situation does not escalate,” he stressed, while calling on all Guyanese to refrain from endangering each other’s life.
This Government will work to bring justice to every single person who has been affected in these circumstances, he assured before explaining that in consultation with the GPF he has engaged the mechanism to reach out to the British Government to come to Guyana in support of the Force’s investigative capacity.
The Regional Security System is a “hybrid” organisation, part of the Caribbean Community which works to ensure the stability and well-being of Member States through mutual cooperation, in order to maximise regional security in preserving the social and economic development.
Under the terms of the Treaty on Security Assis-tance (TSA) the RSS offers immediate and threat appropriate response to all situations, programmes to increase security awareness and high-quality comprehensive and objective research. It also offers intelligence and Trend Analysis in a timely manner to support effective decision-making.
According to Ali along with bolstering the criminal investigative capacity of the GPF he has asked the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to explore, within the United Nations system, all means available to hold to account, all those who spread race hate and instigate racial strife.
He stressed that the events surrounding these horrific and barbaric acts of murder and the criminality that also saw the loss of property, people being chopped, robbed and brutally assaulted, require a more comprehensive and holistic review and as such, the country needs to get to the bottom of this.
“We need to understand who instigated, what was instigated and as a result, I am exploring the commissioning of an International Commission of Inquiry (COI) to look at every aspect of this situation, to look beyond what took place on the ground, to look at the behaviours that came about as a result of statements made. The COI is important for us to have a comprehensive understanding as to what took place,” Ali said.
He added: “The time has come for us to deal with this issue very frontally. The time has come for us to deal with it very seriously and no one must believe that they can use situations like these for any political gain. There is no gain whether politically, socially, economically, morally or culturally. There is no gain that you can get out of this. The only persons who lose are the families who are suffering, the people who received and who were inflicted with blows and loss of property and the country; the credibility and image of our country suffers greatly”.
The President’s resort to overseas aid for the police – not something that PPP/C governments have traditionally been in favour of – comes just weeks after sustained international support against the rigging of the March 2nd general elections helped Ali’s government to get into office.