Crime Chief Leslie James yesterday revealed that the implementation of the US-funded Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) has already assisted in the solving of 63 open cases.
Speaking prior to the formal launching of the AFIS, which was held at the Criminal Investigation Department, Eve Leary, he said that the system has helped solve three murders, 53 break and enter and larceny, three simple larceny and four robberies under arms.
US Ambassador Brent Hardt stated that the formal launch of the AFIS culminated a year-long initiative to enter fingerprint cards into a searchable electronic database. The AFIS was handed over as part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) which began in 2010 to advance and promote public safety and security in the region.
Hardt stated that “the new centralized, high quality digital database means that records will never degrade or disappear…the AFIS system will assist law enforcement by providing empirical evidence of a criminal’s guilt”. He added that increased public trust in the justice system and the Guyana Police Force would be a positive by-product of the AFIS.
Hardt lauded the media’s coverage on effective forensic investigations and the emphasis placed on the continued commitment through the CBSI. Hardt stated that for this year, the fourth year of the initiative, the Regional Integrated Ballistics Information Network will be implemented and will allow for authorities to track the movement of weapons across the region.
He stated that for 2014, the CBSI has provided US$1.7 million to the UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean which presented firearm destruction equipment to Guyana in January. He noted that an additional US$1.7 million was spent on three Metal Shark Aluminum Boats for the Guyana Coast Guard to combat transnational organized crime, ensure freedom of commerce and the navigation on inland waterways and “most importantly, ensure the safety and security of the people of Guyana.”
Hardt said that “we want the citizens of Guyana to see the benefits of improved security and social justice in a personal way…to achieve this we need to forge a reliable, long-term partnerships to build capacities by providing adequate training equipment and other resources to meet the threats.”
Hardt began his address by jokingly stating “here I am meddling again,” a direct response to the PPP/C’s description last week of the Ambassador as “a known meddler in local politics”. He stated that the US will remain committed to the CBSI partnership, adding that in the fourth year of the initiative the goal of “building safer and more secure communities so that governments can advance prosperity and social justice,” was on track.
Amid, a feud between Guyana and the US over the LEAD democracy project, the Ambassador took the opportunity to state that security reform and “law enforcement must be embedded in a strong democratic, economic and social framework. That is why the United States’ assistance to Guyana has always sought to integrate economic development, security, democracy and governance and social issues.”
Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee who spoke after Hardt said “the cooperation between the government of Guyana and the government of the United States of America particularly in the security sector has been very productive and has been to the mutual benefit of both countries and the track record of contributions made by the US to the security sector particularly do not go without being recorded…irrespective of the political cooperation, cooperation in the field of governance in the field of democratic practices is another kettle of fish.”
Rohee had earlier in the day in his capacity of General Secretary of the ruling PPP lambasted the LEAD project and the US’s handling of it.
Rohee added that it was important for him to emphasize that notwithstanding the differences in other areas of cooperation, the Ambassador, his staff and, the government of the United States have seen the importance of maintaining the same consistency in supporting the security sector. Rohee stated that there was no contradiction between the cooperation of the two nations in certain facets compared to other areas.
He said that the 2014 budget has catered for additional advanced equipment to invest further in the reduction of crime across Guyana. Rohee asserted that the police had to focus on building the human capacity along with the technological as they were not mutually exclusive.
Rohee hinted further at the disagreement over the USAID LEAD Project when he stated that differences in one area have never affected the cooperation and the consistency of the US’s contributions to advancement of Guyana’s security sector.
In the first three years of the CBSI, the US committed over US$200 million across the region with three ultimate gorals: substantially reduce illicit trafficking of firearms, advance public safety and security and promote social justice.