Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee is appealing to Leader of the Opposition David Granger to support the reforms government is undertaking in the security sector, defending his stewardship of the security landscape by pointing out that serious crimes and traffic deaths decreased under his watch.
“It is time that entrenched party politics and intractable positions are expunged from initiatives aimed at enhancing public safety and security,” said Rohee. “The Ministry of Home Affairs is of the view that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr David Granger is committed to the same course to which the ministry is committed insofar as the security of our country and people is concerned,” Rohee said.
Granger piloted a motion some months ago to bar the minister from speaking in the National Assembly because of what the motion described as his abysmal failure while at the helm of the security machinery of this country.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs wants a constructive engagement with the parliamentary opposition. It must be an engagement that must be structured, sustainable, and all-embracing with well established reporting and accountability mechanisms, worked out and approved by both sides,” said Rohee.
He said the Ministry of Home Affairs is prepared to bring to the Parliamentary Oversight Committee for deliberations the Strategic and Implementation Plans for the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service as well as its projections for the 2013 Budget for the Guyana Police Force.
“The ministry is agreeable to the setting of agreed and specific timelines for reporting back to the Oversight Committee on the progress and challenges that have arisen to facilitate or hinder implementation of the strategic plans,” he said.
He said too that the ministry is prepared to make itself available regularly to the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Security Sector in an effort to ensure greater transparency and accountability of its activities and those of the departments that fall under its jurisdiction.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs is convinced that in the spirit of compromise and accommodation, the maintenance of peace and good order in our country can be further advanced,” he said.
“Government’s Public Safety and Security Strategy is now on the cusp of a critical but necessary phase. If this phase is not implemented the result would be a backward step for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the security sector as a whole,” he said.
He said the claim by the opposition that the security sector has been jeopardised is baseless, without foundation and cannot be justified by the facts.
Backing up his statements with figures, the minister said that the number of fatal accidents that occurred during the six-year period, 2007 to 2012 (673) was 25 per cent less than during the period 2001 to 2006, when there were 901 fatal road accidents.
“As regards actual deaths, during the two periods 2001 to 2006 and 2007 to 2012, 1,007 persons lost their lives between the years 2001 to 2006 while 775 persons lost their lives during the years 2006 to 2012 reflecting a 23 per cent reduction,” he said.
The minister said that if the total of all categories of road accidents are compared between the two aforementioned periods it would show that there was a 26 per cent reduction in the number of reports during the latter six year period.
“This is an indication that the Guyana Police Force has been more effective in managing traffic during the period 2006 to 2012 and there has been more deliberate citizen and institutional efforts and collaboration to reduce accidents on our roads,” he said.
He said that a “comparative glance” of the total reports of serious crimes committed in Guyana for the cluster of years 2000 to 2005 and 2006 to 2012 indicates the reports for the years 2006 to 2012 reduced by 7 per cent.
“For the years 2000 to 2005, 28,471 reports of serious crimes were recorded by the Guyana Police Force but for the years 2006 to 2012 the total reports were 26,467,” he said.
“While there may have been fluctuations in the number of reports of specific categories of crimes during both periods, the fact remains that the latter period up to December 24, 2012 recorded a 7 per cent reduction of reports,” he said.
The minister said that during the period 1999 to 2005 the police were involved in 129 fatal shootings and 47 firearms of varying calibre were recovered. “During the period 2006 to 2012, the police were involved in 87 fatal shootings and 53 firearms were recovered,” the minister pointed out.
“These figures indicate that the number of fatal shootings by the police has reduced during the latter period 2005 to 2012 and more firearms have been recovered,” he said.
The minister called the statements by the opposition “fundamentally political, spurious and false in essence” and said that they were also “vindictive”.
“Were the opposition to move away from the narrow, myopic approach in viewing developments in the security sector, they would obviously see the holistic, well thought-out and carefully executed new dispensation prevailing in the sector,” said Rohee.