A society which has abandoned civilized behaviour cannot argue against lawlessness

Dear Editor,

One can measure how much a society has degenerated when its citizens begin to applaud, condone and justify extra-judicial killings, especially on social media. It is either that there is no confidence in the judicial system or that society’s reasoning about what constitutes fundamental justice has eroded.  Whichever it is, if the society places the power to determine guilt and innocence in the hands of the military police complex, then it would have abandoned the very essence of civilized behaviour. As such, how will it then argue against lawlessness? The reports following the killing of two youths from Albouystown and the wounding of another indicated they were suspected of intention to commit a crime. “However some eyewitnesses alleg-ed that the suspects were unarmed and that one of them had surrendered,” reported KN.

Modern societies are founded on the basic principle that every citizen has a right to defend their guilt or innocence, regardless of whether that guilt is obvious or assumed.  Therefore, the question that Guyana must answer is at what point does a potential threat compromise the right to life. Who makes this decision? Who defines what is criminal in a society and when it deserves the death penalty? It is sad that in Guyana the face of the black youth is the poster of what defines crime. Let’s be real, eighty-five per cent of those killed extra-judicially are young black males and some in the society now applaud. Yet, not a single drug baron is hunted down with the same earnestness. Not a single government official is prosecuted with the same urgency.

I do not hear the same outrage which causes people to applaud the extra-judicial killing of young men levelled at extremely corrupt state officials. Isn’t the fact that millions are misappropriated from the state’s coffers a criminal problem? Is the lack of outrage because no one known gets killed?

There is justifiable outrage and pain caused by the overbearing and continuous state of crime in the society. However, when will those responsible for securing the society be held accountable? The Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee has held his position for seven years amidst the worsening criminal environment, while he shifts the blame to the opposition in awkward political speeches. Unsolved murders are endemic under the Crime Chief, and Deputy Law Enforcement Commis-sioner Seelall Persaud, yet he holds on to his position.

Crime in Guyana goes unsolved because the Guyana Police Force has no relationship with and is alienated from communities that are essential to solving crime. Yet, with clouded vision the Commissioner of Police announces another Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, which means more extra-judicial killings. If the organizational culture and structural components remain the same, how can Commissioner Brumell assure the society that SWAT will not be another failed Black Clothes killing squad?  Mr Brumell says that specially identified ranks of the Guyana Police Force are being recruited through a vigorous process:  “I can assure you that my Deputy Commissioner of Law Enforcement Seelall Persaud is one of the persons taking them through the process.”  By any measurement of law enforcement, Mr Seelall Persaud has failed miserably in his duties. Mr Brumell must tell the society what are the short, medium and long-term programmes to deal with the situation?

The Guyana Police Force desperately needs a structural change in the way it enforces the law. This must include rigorous training of police officers in community policing and decent compensation to encourage highly educated individuals to make law enforcement a career. So far, the government has refused to inject the required amount of funds and increase the investment placed in sourcing the necessary crime-fighting equipment for the police force, to aid its crime-fighting initiatives.

There are some developed societies that would be willing to lend assistance in relation to crime-fighting initiatives and police reform in developing countries. Instead, the Home Affairs Minister announced that it would seek consultation with a private group, The Emergency Group (TEG), based in Washington DC, rather than seek government-to-government partnership assistance. The problem with this is that such consultation is a waste of taxpayer dollars, if the implementation of recommendations is continuously shelved. The Guyana Government has a chronic habit of seeking consultation and not implementing the recommendations.

Furthermore, Guyana has to focus on the serious problem plaguing it, if it is to seek long-tern solutions to the problem of crime. That is, the deteriorating education system is turning out functionally illiterate youth by the thousands, without an ability to earn a decent living. At the same time the society dances with pride for the few hundred who excel at the secondary school level. This social masking is deplorable. The sociological reason crime is so high is the fact that poverty resulting from drugs and lack of skills ensnares the society. This is further exacerbated by the widening gap between the uncaring rich and problematic poor. Is the answer kill them all, or educate them all?

Yours faithfully,
Dennis Wiggins

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