Security reform plan not yet before Cabinet -Harmon

The action plan for the reform of the security sector, which was developed by visiting British expert Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe, is still with President David Granger, who has the final say on what happens next, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said yesterday.

Combe, who was on a one-year contract with the Guyana government, handed over the report to Granger on January 18th.

When contacted, Harmon said that the document has not yet been taken before the Cabinet and that it would undergo a thorough examination by the president.

“The president will have to look at the report carefully and decide what action needs to be taken on it,” he stressed.

Observers have stressed the need for the plan to be adopted so as to bring some order to the security sector, particularly in light of events occurring within the Guyana Police Force, some of which was highlighted during the Com-mission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged assassination plot against the president.

Combe has publicly said that he did give some consideration to the revelations of a fractured hierarchy within the police force based on the evidence led during the inquiry.

Granger, in accepting the report, contended that the previous administration failed to find sustainable ways to restructure the security sector and identify the root causes of crime. As a result, he said government was determined to resuscitate the shelved UK Security Sector Reform Action Plan (SSRP) as part of its efforts to take corrective action.

The SSRAP was aborted in 2009 following differences between the then PPP/C government and London.

After taking office in May, 2015, President Granger engaged British High Commissioner Greg Quinn on the issue of security reform and he subsequently met with Baroness Joyce Anelay, Minister of State for the Common-wealth and the United Nations (UN) at the Foreign and Common-wealth Office, and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.  It was out of these engagements that a decision was taken to resuscitate the plan and following an understanding between Guyana and the UK, Combe came to Guyana.

“We passed through nearly 20 years of ‘woulda, coulda and shoulda,’ without any attempt to seriously deal with the security problem in this country and like a disease you can’t pretend to treat it, you can’t promise to treat it, you can’t talk about treating it, without actually getting down to the root cause…We are now trying to correct the errors of over two decades,” Granger had said at the handing over ceremony.

Pointing out that the handing over ceremony though brief was extremely significant, Granger noted that “it is part of a process that started nearly 20 years ago when the government of the Cooperative Repub-lic of Guyana found it necessary to embark on security sector reform. This came about because of the escalation in narcotics trafficking, which brought with it a horrific spate of violence that we had never seen before… there was a surge in violence, there was a surge in execution killings, there was a surge in the corruption of the security forces.”

He said that the then government failure miserably in its quest to deal with the narcotics trafficking and security threats before highlighting some of those efforts.

Combe noted that work on the reform process has already started and that that his report built on the ones that are already in existence. He expressed hope that he will return soon to continue his work for another one-year period.

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