According to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, following reports of attacks by armed gangs (Sindicatos), Guyana’s security forces are taking measures to assure citizens operating in the Cuyuni River that they are safe.
He stressed that the forces have sufficient resources at their disposal but are currently being stretched by having to investigate nuisance reports.
Harmon announced at yesterday’s Post-Cabinet press briefing that the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Security Sector, led by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan visited several border communities in Region 1 (Barima-Waini).
He explained that this visit was preceded by President David Granger’s own trip to the area during which he outlined a frontier villages policy.
Harmon told reporters that Cabinet noted that the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Police Force had mounted high-level, high-ranking visits to the area in an approach which includes citizens, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and the Ministry of Natural Resources’ core of wardens in an attempt to address the security situation which has been widely reported.
He stressed that this high-level team which is in the area has had specific briefings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “that basically deals with matters in relation to the border and the need for them to exercise caution in dealing with these matters.”
The Minister noted that in some cases incident reports are made to media operatives before the security forces which hampers their ability to respond appropriately.
“Something happens on the border and even before security forces can respond to it the media is already reporting it. It takes time to respond. When someone is affected they might not call the security forces they might call their mother or sister or a reporter. Sometimes the security forces are not told right away we have to ensure that information reaches them [but] they have the resources at their disposal to respond,” he said adding that sometimes nuisance reports are made in an attempt to use state resources to settle private scores.
“You have to make a careful analysis of information received before considering it actionable intelligence,” the Minister told reporters.
Asked to respond to reports of military exercises being conducted by Venezuela forces on their side of the border, Harmon cited this as an example of information possibly making it to media before the security forces.
“We cannot as a nation approach international agencies, we cannot approach the United Nations with hearsay. We have to have credible information upon which we can file these reports, upon which we can dispatch note verbale. We have to have credible information especially in the era of fake news,” he stressed.
The Minister explained that to make a report without verifiable corroboration leaves the discussion open for the other party to simply deny it ever occurred.
He urged citizens to take actions on the border seriously and reports events with corroboration since a lot of time and state resources are being spent verifying the accuracy of reports.