Civil society bloc calls on parties to propose police reforms

-in wake of alleged drug-ties

Civil society coalition FacingtheFuture (FtF) has called for proposals from political parties contesting the upcoming polls on reforming the police force, in light of recent allegations of the links between members and the drug trade.

In a statement, FtF said calls by political parties for a Commission of Inquiry into the recent revelations, or into the state of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in general are neither re-assuring nor adequate at this juncture.

“A more welcome response would be for the parties contesting the upcoming elections to address the problem of policing in Guyana more substantively,” it said, while inviting all of the parties to propose structural changes required to reform the GPF into a service geared to upholding democratic policing, which they ought to pledge to introduce early in the new parliamentary term. It added that following a period to allow the parties the opportunity to prepare their proposals, FtF will convene a public forum to provide them the opportunity to present their positions on this issue to the public.

FtF said the invitation is in keeping with its goal to encourage political parties during the electoral season to focus on the substantial reforms required to create a more functional and inclusive future for Guyana.

It noted that the recent allegations provide an insight into how advanced the erosion of professionalism at the top of the GPF has become. “It appears to be seriously compromised with respect to the war on drugs,” it said.

FtF also said that it is clear that rehabilitation of the GPF is intimately associated with re-establishing its independence from the government of the day, which it said was “a cancer which first surfaced in the 1970s.”

Further, it noted that although the Commission of Inquiry into the Disciplined Services in 2003 produced over a hundred recommendations for improvements in policing—much of which have been systematically ignored—the structural changes required for policing in a democratic society, and particularly the issue of political independence were not addressed. “Whether the subsequent burgeoning of the drug industry and the profound dysfunctionality of the GPF has now convinced political parties of the need for structural reform of the GPF is an urgent question the society needs to be informed about,” FtF said.

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