A senior United Kingdom official was yesterday expected to hand over a proposal to the APNU+AFC government on tackling security issues here.
Almost seven years after a security sector reform project with the UK collapsed following differences between the then PPP/C government and London, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office James Duddridge told reporters that he would present a document on security reform to government for its consideration.
Responding to a question from Stabroek News during a briefing at the residence of Greg Quinn, the UK High Commissioner to Guyana, Duddridge explained that the document entails “a piece of analysis around the current state of the security sector and what could the potential action plan be taking forward different elements of security sector reform and specifically how the UK government could assist in that action plan.”
Quinn added that further discussions would take place once government has studied the document. “Whatever we do has to be done in agreement with government so what we are doing today is giving them the assessment and then once they have considered the contents of the assessment, we will then look at what we will be able to do next because we will only do whatever the government wants us to do,” he said emphasising that the UK will not dictate what, where and how but is presenting the situation and offering assistance. International partners can work with the government as well, he said.
Last year, President David Granger had revealed that government had approached the British to have the rejected Guyana Security Sector Reform Action Plan back on the cards in the wake of the country’s ongoing battle to keep the crime situation under control. The UK withdrew the Guyana Security Sector Reform Action Plan in October 2009 after long delays in implementation and “quibbling” over administrative details, cited by then High Commissioner Fraser Wheeler.
“We stand ready to help the government if they chose to take up some of the actions and funding as well as expertise will be part of that but certainly it is for the Government of Guyana to look at the whole piece, it’s not something the UK government in totality is going to be funding and delivering,” Duddridge said yesterday. The discussion on funding will take place after government studies the document and he said a timeline for implementation is a question for the Guyana government.
The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which has benefitted from British assistance, before will continue to benefit, Duddridge said. He said the UK is going to offer assistance and is happy with the relationship, with the work done and are prepared to carry on. He pointed out that it also speaks to broader security sector reform and the UK is ready to help government and do more in a variety of different ways. It is in everybody’s interest to have the capability to deal with serious organised crime whatever form that might take, he emphasised.
In terms of the issues he would raise with government, the UK official said he plans to discuss Guyana’s place in the Caribbean and the Region, business and economic opportunities and how the government plans to move up the ease of doing business index to generate greater capital and wealth for the country to develop a larger tax base, the human rights situation including on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people, the death penalty as well as reflections on the APNU+AFC’s government first year in office.
He declined to give an assessment of the administration’s performance but said he is very conscious that when governments come in, they have big ambitions and delivering on those is sometimes tricky in retaining that focus and working on what can be done and when it can be done. Keeping that focus despite events is absolutely essential, he said.
The official was also questioned on the ongoing controversy with Venezuela and he emphasised that the UK supports Guyana’s position. “We consider this matter a closed matter, the territorial integrity of your country is fixed, it was fixed in 1899,” he said. “We support the territorial integrity of your country unequivocally and we do that vocally when we are here and we will do so and continue to do so in international bodies such as the UN,” he added.