Guyana’s Security Sector Reform Action Plan (SSRAP) will soon be operationalized, President David Granger has said following his bilateral meeting with Baroness Joyce Anelay, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.Since taking office in May 2015, President Granger had indicated that his administration is intent on having the SSRAP reintroduced. Over the past 16 months, the President has met with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregg Quinn, on the matter.
“I would say (that) in the last 16 months we have covered a lot of ground to restore the Security Sector (Reform) Action Plan as fast as we could; and within weeks it is going to be happening,” the President disclosed. The US$4.7 billion SSRAP, which began in 2007, was scrapped in 2009 after the British Government had requested to have oversight of the programme, to ensure that there was ‘value for money’. The former People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration had disagreed with the manner in which the British Government had wanted the programme to be run, and had stated that the British had sought to intrude upon Guyana’s sovereignty.
However, the British Government had said that the Government of Guyana had submitted a different proposal — one which had focused on police modernisation rather than employing a holistic approach to reform, as was originally requested. The intention of the British was to build a workable basis for improving national security, while reducing crime in Guyana by 2011. Notwithstanding the history, President Granger says, a British team is expected in Guyana shortly to begin implementing the first phase of the project. Another team had visited Guyana to do scoping.
After the SSRAP has been implemented, Guyana’s security sector will be significantly strengthened, President Granger believes. He said Guyana’s vast and porous borders have allowed for a number of illicit activities to take place. Pointing to the recent discovery of an illegal aircraft at Yupakari, Rupununi, Region 9, the President said that with the police force strengthened, law enforcement officials would be in a better position to address such issues.
“It is very likely that that aircraft was involved in illegal activities, and I have ordered an investigation into the nature of those activities: how the plane came to be found there, and where it came from. Guyana still does not have the capability to protect its long borders and its vast hinterland from being penetrated by illegal aviators, and this emphasises the need for security sector reform,” he added.
The President said there is a great need for a stronger police force, one that is better equipped. “I’d like to see policemen (being) better paid. I want to see police units with boats, all-terrain vehicles and aircraft,” he declared, while noting that the country is losing a lot by its inability to adequately protect its borders and hinterland regions.
“We know there is not only illegal migration; there is also the smuggling of narcotics, contraband, gun-running, trafficking in persons. And these crimes are going to be stamped out with a more efficient police force…The British involvement is essential to retraining the police force,” the President has said.
The SSRAP was conceived in 2006 with the aim of being fully implemented three years later.
President Granger also participated in several other bilateral meetings, including with Fiji, Ghana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. He is expected to meet with other world leaders before he wraps up his visit to the U.S.
(Reposted from the Guyana Chronicle)