FacingtheFuture inviting lead political parties to discuss police reform

Civic group FacingtheFuture  (FtF) has invited the three parties contesting the elections – the AFC, APNU and PPP/C – to participate in a public forum discussion on the reform of policing in Guyana.

In a press release the group said “Few topics in Guyana generate as much indignation and anger as the Guyana Police Force (GPF).” It noted that in 2003 a full-scale Commission of Inquiry was launched primarily into the working of the GPF and though over 100 recommendations were made, the inquiry “never emerged from Parlia-ment.”

FtF says the imminent elections will provide political parties with an opportunity to initiate changes to make elections less secretive and more democratic.

It noted that presidential candidates need not appear in person, though they are welcome; “The more important aim is to learn what each of the contending alliances propose[s] to do about the critical issue of policing.”

The group said it disseminated a number of policing-related theme suggesting the issues that it believes “would find a place in any modern national policy on policing.” The session has been planned for the Cara Lodge Conference Room on Quamina Street for Friday September 30.

According to FtF, the military structure and fortified barrack-like police-stations still prevail; highly-centralised decision-making leaves no discretion or budgets to regional commanders and experts, the most recent being Jamaican Police Commissioner Admiral Hardley Lewin in a speech to Rotary earlier this year, have commented frequently on this dysfunctional structure.

As such it opines that modernizing this structure “goes hand-in-hand with models of ‘policing in the community’, not by high-tech policing and high-tech weaponry isolated from communities.”

The FtF posits that a transformed relationship with the community is a necessary condition of transforming the membership of the GPF into a body that represents the national community it is policing. To date, efforts have tended to equate “representative” with “ethnic balance” rather than focus on other ways that could ensure a more representative force.
According to the release, the FtF is a coalition of civic organisations aiming to modernize Guyana’s system of government to make it more inclusive and transparent, a press release said.

Its sponsors are the Amerindian Peoples Association, Church Women United, Commonground, Community-Based Rehabilitation – EBD, Guyana Council of Churches, Guyana Human Rights Association, Guyana Society for Blind, Guyana Workers Union, the Institute of Development Studies, Rights of Children, Red Thread, and the Vilvoorden Women’s Organisation.

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