Cops defend anti-piracy efforts in Berbice

-investigated 30 reports in past five years

The police force is defending its response to piracy in Berbice, saying it has investigated 30 reports in the county over the past five years, from which 23 cases were placed before the courts.

“The Guyana Police Force wishes to state that we have been dealing aggressively with acts of piracy,” police force spokesman Ivelaw Whittaker said in a statement yesterday, in response to criticism by Chairman of the Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-op Society and Berbice Anti-Piracy Squad Pravinchandra Deodat.

The police force is taking issue with Deodat’s assertions, reported in the June 24th Kaieteur News article headlined “Fisheries Chairman slams police, judiciary for not enforcing Piracy Act,” and especially the accusations that it is failing to appropriately deal with pirate attacks and does not share information with the Fishermen’s Co-op.

But Whittaker noted the number of cases investigated and resulting prosecutions over the past five years.

In addition, he said that in many instances fishermen living in and operating in Berbice have been implicated and charged, including a sibling of the Chairman of the No. 66 Fishermen’s Co-op Society. “Given the fact that fisher folks from Berbice are involved in these acts of piracy, the police have some reservations concerning the sharing of information on their operations/strategies,” he noted.

Whittaker added that with the exception of incidents occurring on the high seas under certain circumstances, the police can only prosecute offenders for offences committed within the territory of Guyana. At the same time, he noted that the police force has a very productive working relationship with its counterparts in Suriname on reports of piracy, in addition to other law enforcement issues.

Two fishermen, Nazim Shakim, 28, called ‘Fineman’ of Lot 17 ‘A’ Belvedere, Corentyne and Cyril Ali, 45, called ‘Counsel’ of Annandale, East Coast Demerara were reportedly tortured before being ordered to jump overboard during a reported pirate attack just over a week ago.

The three surviving crewmen, Lakeram Richard, 18, of Number 67 Village, Corentyne; Anthony Joseph Balram, 19, of Number 54 Village and Samuel Hatton, 34, of Annandale, East Coast Demerara were also tossed overboard with their hands tied but managed to free themselves and swim to shore.

Local police have signaled that while they were willing to investigate the matter, the attack occurred in Suriname’s waters. Richard, Balram and Hatton had already made separate reports to the police in Suriname.

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