Georgetown, Guyana – (May 11, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon said that Government will be heightening its counter-piracy activities in Guyana, in light of the recent deadly piracy attack, which occurred in Surinamese waters on Sunday, April 27. The Minister also assured local fisher folk of Government’s commitment to ensuring that they continue to ply their trade and earn their livelihood in and environment of safety and security.
Speaking at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Harmon explained that when the Administration took Office in 2015, piracy attacks were a regular occurrence. However, coordinated efforts by the Government resulted in a significant reduction in the number of attacks, but added that it is clear that a significant threat remains as the crime had become entrenched over time and ensuring safety remains a top priority for the administration.
“This is a result of a consistent approach by the Government, the first thing we did was activated the Anti-Piracy Task Force, which met at least once per month to review matters of this nature…The Minister of Public Security and several Ministers also engaged the local fisher folk with respect to protection of their vessels when they are out at sea…This combined effort on the part of the State, in our view, forced those who had that criminal intent to have to operate outside of the Guyana waters, but certainly this is something that we have to continue to look at because it seems as if this kind of criminal intent ran very deep and it is something which the security forces will have to pay greater attention to as we move forward,” the Minister of State said.
Speaking on the report provided by the Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan’s to Cabinet following his engagements with Surinamese authorities and relatives of the victims, Minister Harmon informed that the Government of Suriname had agreed to assist the families of the deceased, not only by resuming the search but with financial and psychological support as well. Yesterday, the Surinamese Parliament unanimously passed a Motion in this regard.
In addition, the Surinamese authorities have agreed on the implementation of a number of regulatory measures aimed at ensuring the safety of fisher folks and their vessels. Minister Harmon added that “the collaboration between the security forces of Guyana and Suriname will continue until the perpetrators of these dastardly acts, are arrested and placed before the courts.”
When asked by the media about the possibility of a recapitalisation of the Guyana Coast Guard and deployment of additional resources, the Minister, who is also a member of the National Security Committee, responded in the affirmative, noting that this situation along Guyana’s waters will be closely monitored and resources will be made available as the need arises.
On April 27, about 20 fishermen aboard two boats were attacked by pirates, some of whom has since been positively identified. Eleven persons are still missing.