Although the leaking of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the police’s handling of the alleged plot to assassinate him is a concern, President David Granger has said that ensuring there is a police force that can be trusted and is efficient in addressing crime is more important.
Speaking to reporters at State House shortly after the accreditation of Austria’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Guyana on Wednesday, Granger indicated that no investigation will be done to determine who leaked the document.
“Naturally, as a head of government, I am concerned with any unauthorised leaks and I had hoped that the members of the Cabinet would have had the opportunity to look at it critically before it came up for public discussion. So I am concerned. I don’t know who is responsible for that leak but the important thing is that we have been able to discern or detect some flaws in police administration,” he said.
The recommendations made in the report were publicised in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle.
The newspaper reported that retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe, who conducted the CoI, recommended that Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud be removed or made to resign, that acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine be sanctioned and that there be a shake up within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), including the replacement of Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum.
Granger said that while the contents of the report were not discussed at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, they will be next week.
“If it hasn’t been sent yet, it will certainly be discussed next Tuesday,” he said in response to whether the report is before Cabinet.
He indicated that the Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of Public Security are working to ensure that the police force becomes more efficient. “We are all concerned about crime and we can’t solve the problems of crime… without having an efficient police force, so the efficiency of the police force is of paramount concern. I am concerned about the leaks but we want to ensure that we have a police force which we can trust and which could bring down the rate of crime,” he added.
Asked if a probe will be conducted into who leaked the document, he said no. “No, I wouldn’t be probing. I wouldn’t be conducting a Commission of Inquiry into the media,” he added.
The CoI was set up to investigate an alleged plot to assassinate the president and the police force’s handling of the probe.
Testimony at the public hearings for the inquiry had placed several senior ranks, including Blanhum, under scrutiny for their handling of the case. It also highlighted a fractious relationship within the police force’s hierarchy, including a rift between Persaud and second-in-command Ramnarine. There were also several accusations of impropriety.
Granger, who had signalled that the findings of the inquiry could potentially have a bearing on the delayed police promotions, had been heavily criticised for directing the previously constituted Police Service Commission (PSC) to delay its consideration of police promotions. The PSC subsequently decided not to proceed with the review. The president’s directive is being challenged in court. It is expected that the issue would be addressed once the PSC is reconstituted.
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said last month that though the CoI into the report made strong recommendations that could see changes in the hierarchy of the Guyana Police Force, the extent of implementation is heavily dependent on discussions with the President and the Prime Minister.
He had stated that the release of any information concerning the recommendations requires deliberations and stressed on the importance of “measured responses” being made. “Yes, there were some negatives found and yes we have to take care of that.
We want a robust police force, we want security sector reform and we are in the process of that and the report did bring out a couple of things that ought not to have been done and to that extent I am going to make my statement as to whether all that was recommended must happen or all will not happen… [it] can have also negative consequences for an institution,” he said.