The Guyana Defence Force yesterday published the names and photographs of some 156 of its members as being Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and is seeking the public’s assistance in locating them.
According to the notice in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek the 152 men and four women have deserted the GDF and the army asked persons to contact 226-9888, 225-1655, 226-7662 or 640-0520 if they have any information. Employers were also asked to take note since the persons could be arrested at any time. The notice also assured the public that any information will be treated with strict confidentiality.
Following a notice of similar nature last year October, Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best had stated that the lack of discipline was perhaps the main reason so many soldiers are deserting their posts annually. It is not clear if included in the 156 are some from the 103 who were included in the list last year. Over the last few years the GDF has been publishing notices in the media for soldiers gone AWOL. In 2008, 78 names were published and in 2009 close to 150 deserted. From 2004 to late 2007 more than 534 soldiers deserted the GDF for various reasons.
Once a soldier has been absent in excess of 21 days without a known reason then he/she is considered to have deserted the army and is therefore subject to provisions under the law to deal with such instances.
The Defence Act says every person subject to military law under this act who absents himself or herself without leave or persuades or procures any person subject to service law to absent himself or herself without leave shall on conviction by court-martial, be liable to imprisonment for two years or any lesser punishment provided by the act.