Georgetown, Guyana – (January 18, 2018) President David Granger, today, pledged his Administration’s commitment to addressing the root causes of crime and correcting the errors of over two decades of mismanagement of the security sector. He made these remarks when he received the Report of the Security Sector Reform Project (SSRP), which was presented to him by United Kingdom’s Security Reform Programme Senior Advisor, Colonel Russell Combe, an expert from the Olive Group, which was contracted by Engineering, Design, Construction, Management (AECOM), on behalf of the United Kingdom Government.

Delivering his remarks, President Granger reminded the audience, which included the Chief of Staff, Brigadier Patrick West, Deputy Chief of Staff, Colonel Nazrul Hussain and acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Paul Williams among other security officials, that the US$4.7B programme was scrapped in 2009 by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration after the British Government had requested to have oversight of the programme, to ensure that there was ‘value for money’.

At that time, the former Government saw this request as a move to intrude upon Guyana’s sovereignty. The British Government had said that the then Government 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.

In 2016, just under a year after assuming the Presidency, President Granger met with Baroness Joyce Anelay, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations (UN) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Greg Quinn, to request that consideration be given to restarting the programme in Guyana. In 2017, a team visited the country on a scoping mission to prepare for the arrival of the senior advisor.

President Granger said that while the ceremony is simple, it is a significant occasion as it is the formalisation of a process which started nearly 20 years ago when the Government felt it necessary to embark on security sector reform.

“A number of bills were passed in the National Assembly. The Disciplined Forces Commission was convened, which produced a large number of recommendations which, in the main, were ignored. We have passed through nearly 20 years of would have, could have and should have without any attempt to seriously deal with the security problems in this country and like a disease, you cannot pretend to treat it, you cannot threaten to treat it, you cannot say you’re going to treat it without actually getting down to the root causes. We are now trying to correct the errors of over two decades of mismanagement of the security sector. There is a lot of work to do,” he said.

The Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces said that though numerous experts were brought in and various systems implemented under the former administration, none reaped success as they focused on the symptoms of crime rather than the root cause which, at that time, was narcotics trafficking.

“This came about because of the escalation in narcotics trafficking, which brought with it a horrific spate of violence that we have never seen before. The linkages were there [which indicated] that with the rise of narcotics trafficking, there was a surge in violence, a surge in the corruption of the security forces and in execution killings. The failure to deal with the narco-trafficking threat 20 years ago meant that the administration at the time was attempting to deal with the symptoms rather than the disease and so many of the attempts at security reform were insincere. They wanted to deal with the murders, but they didn’t want to deal with the cause of the murders. Nothing was being done to deal with the root causes of crime and that is narcotics trafficking, which started to corrupt the security forces. All of these measures were not dealing with the cause of crime, only the manifestations of crime,” President Granger said.

Mr. Combe, whose office was housed at the Ministry of the Presidency during his one-year tenure in Guyana, in an invited comment, said that his posting here allowed him to look closely at the needs of the security sector through all the stakeholders. In the duration of his work, he visited numerous Police stations, met with top security officials and examined previous reports and recommendations, which spoke to the reform of the security sector.

However, Mr. Combe said that while the Report places heavy emphasis on the Police Force, it also looked at the Guyana Coast Guard and the Guyana Prison Service.

Leave a Comment