Caribbean overwhelmed by drugs ogre, Griffith says

- legal architecture not snaring ‘big fish’

“The inability of the system to meet the test of the law which the system itself has established,” is a major impediment to overcoming the crime and security challenges, notably the drug challenge, confronting Guyana and the rest of the region, Guyanese-born regional security specialist Dr Ivelaw Griffith told the Stabroek News in an interview on Monday last.

“The reality is that the overarching architecture of our societies is one of democracy and the rule of law which means that you have got to be able to win against the big fish in the courts,” Dr Griffith said.

And according to the Guyanese-born academic, the inability of government to secure convictions in major criminal cases

Dr Ivelaw Griffith
Dr Ivelaw Griffith

often has to do with – in large measure – the serious limitations in the criminal justice architecture. “You may suspect and know who the big fish are but you still have to bring the charges and have them hold up in the courts,” Dr Griffith said.

Dr Griffith, who has written extensively on security issues in the Caribbean including those related to the proliferation of drugs, pointed to the failure of “Guyana and other Caribbean countries” to successfully apply forfeiture legislature in drug-related cases. “Let’s look and see how many times there have been successful prosecutions under that legislation; while having the law is necessary it is not sufficient,” Dr Griffith said. He said that the ability to win against the big fish has to do with a range of other capabilities including those that have to do with coping with corruption in law-enforcement agencies and enhancing the capabilities of the courts to secure prosecutions.

The often perceived posture of fatalism in the Caribbean on the proliferation of drugs, drug-related criminality and attendant regional security issues has to do with the “recognition on the part of the political elite that the security concerns are overwhelming,” he said. Part of that recognition, he said, has to do with the fact that the capacity of the countries to deal with the drug problem is just not there. And so you have a combination of factors that sometimes lead to an impression of muddling through, a circumstance which he said was a result of the “overwhelming nature of the situation” and “the limitations on the part of the countries to deal with it. It is not simply that they do not want to deal with it. The reality is that it is overwhelming.”

Griffith told Stabroek News that the drug challenge confronting the region also extended into the realm of a scarcity of resources with which to meet the challenge.  He pointed out that the need to direct resources in the direction of combatting the drug menace had to be seen in the context of other needs that exist elsewhere in Caribbean societies. The resources have got to be spread in a number of areas.

And according to Griffith, the security vulnerabilities in the Caribbean mean that it is not “in the national interest of the other Caribbean stakeholders to just let the situation be… I am talking about the United States of America, Canada, the European Union. I am also talking about South America. It is not in the interest of any stakeholder to let it be.”

Meanwhile, he said that the vulnerability in the regional security architecture also reposed in its dependence on bilateral and multilateral support. None of the other stakeholders – United States, Britain, Canada, the European Union, or the United Nations – have infinite resources so that the resources that are able to be lent to the Caribbean must also in some cases be lent to other countries. “The drug problem is not a North American/ South American/ Caribbean problem. It is a global problem so that the very few stakeholders with the capacity to give to the Caribbean also have to give to the other parts of the world where they have interests,” he noted.

Asked for an opinion on the major security issues confronting the region, Griffith said that while drugs and the attendant crime challenge are part of what he described as a “non-traditional” regional security ‘headache,’ “many Caribbean countries, including Guyana still have some traditional threats [like] border and territorial disputes. You may not hear about these all the time but Guyana still has a 15,000 sq kilometres dispute on its eastern front with Suriname and a five eights of the country’s 83 000 square miles on the western front [with Venezuela.] You may not hear about [the Guyana/Venezuela [territorial controversy] all the time until maybe a research boat is confiscated or an aircraft from Venezuela goes into Guyana’s airspace.”

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Gov’t sets out bid protest procedures

Following the setting up of a Bid Protest Committee (BPC), the Ministry of Finance today unveiled the procedures that bidders who are dissatisfied with how a contract has been awarded, must follow to have the award reviewed.

default placeholder

Eye care specialists to meet in Barbados next month

Eye care specialists from across the Anglophone, Dutch and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, North America and Europe will converge in Barbados in July for the 27th Congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies (OSWI).

default placeholder

Cases being built against drug kingpins

Outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here, Bryan Hunt has urged patience as it relates to indictments of local drug barons saying that cases are being built in the background that can guarantee convictions.

St Paul’s Anglican Church in Aurora

Aurora Village (Part 2)

Things in Aurora Village are much livelier than in Aurora Estate. Women walk in and out of the health centre with babies hanging from their hips; policemen stand outside the police station bracing against a wooden rail as they talk amongst themselves and shouts of chatter from children playing fill the air.

A Cessna 206 – the model of the planes flown out of Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle yesterday

Probe launched into illegal Cessna flights from Ogle

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) yesterday launched an investigation into the illegal flights of two aircraft from the Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

default placeholder

Broke City Hall seeks gov’t bailout

Debt-ridden City Hall has approached the government for a bailout after undertaking several Golden Jubilee projects it did not budget for.

Trevon Thomas

Youth of Guyanese parentage dies in BVI boat accident

A young man of Guyanese parentage died tragically in Tortola, British Virgin Islands around 10:00 hrs yesterday when the speedboat he was in hit rough waters and capsized.

Two of the better appointed stands at D’Urban Park (Stabroek News file photo/Keno George)

D’Urban Park bleachers to remain

The bleachers at D’Urban Park will not be dismantled as originally intended as government intends to preserve and improve the area and turn it into a facility for public events, President David Granger has said.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: