Given what is happening in the gold industry perhaps there should be a re-examination of the official role of members of the Guyana Police Force

Dear Editor,

I read with great interest, the Notice To All Miners by order Gary Best, Commodore, Chief of Staff and Chairman of Joint Services Coordinating Council (Stabroek News January 31). I expected responses to this notice but I saw none.

I have some issues and concerns to bring to your attention. I agree with the statement in the opening paragraph that officers and soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force are not authorized to conduct any mining operations, request to see and inspect any mining licenses or intermeddle into any mining activities except in the presence of a GGMC mining officer.

Paragraph (2) gives the impression that no Guyana Police Force officer is to enforce mining laws in the country without the presence of GGMC mining officer.  This may not be so as there are circumstances whereby members of the Guyana Police Force can enforce mining laws.
Section 1 (b) of Act 20 of 1989 – Mining Act 1989 defines mines officer thus:

“‘mines officer’ for the purpose of any provision of this Act, means a person designated as such under section 4 for the purpose of that provision, and includes a district mines officer.”

As it relates to the appointment of a mines officer, section 5 (1) of the Mining Act 1989 explains:
“The Minister may by notice publish in the Gazette, designate, for the purposes of this Act, or of any provision thereof, a public officer or any other person employed by the government or any employee of the Commission as a mines officer and any such notice shall specify the area for which, and for the purpose of which provisions of this Act, the mines officer is appointed.”

Sections 5, (2)-(5) give more details about mines officers and district mines officers.

The above in my view can empower members of the Guyana Police Force to enforce mining laws individually and not in the presence of a GGMC mining officer provided that such members of the Guyana Police Force are gazetted as mines officers.

There is a protocol between the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission whereby the Commissioner of Police will recommend to the Commissioner, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, suitable ranks from the Guyana Police Force stationed in the various mining districts to be appointed mines officers for specific mining districts.

This request is submitted in writing to the Commissioner, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.  When the Commissioner, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, approves the list of ranks recommended by the Commissioner of Police he will cause their names to be published in the Official Gazette as gazetted mines officers.

This will then empower the members of the Force to enforce mining laws on their own and not in the presence of a mines officer as indicated in the Notice to All Miners.

I can recall several years ago while serving as subordinate officer at Ekereku Police Station I was gazetted as mines officer and I enforced the mining laws on behalf of the Commission.  Perhaps my actions then were illegal.  By the way, my appointment as a mining officer was never revoked.

Section 17 (1) of the Police Act Chapter 16.01 appears to give members of the Guyana Police Force power to take action during a mining operation if a breach of the peace may be occasioned.

I am just an ordinary layman. The Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Joint Service Co-ordinating Council is an Attorney-at-Law and has distinguished Heads of Staff service to advise him.  Perhaps, in relation to what is happening in the gold and diamond industry an examination or re-examination of the official role of members of the Guyana Police Force should be done for the benefit of all stakeholders and moreso to promote effective safety and security strategies in the industry.

Yours faithfully,
Clinton Conway
Assistant Commissioner
of Police (rtd)
Former Commander E&F Division

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