Jagdeo to get security sector reform report – President

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo will soon be furnished with a copy of the security sector reform report which was handed over to government in January and which will be laid in the National Assembly later in the year, President David Granger disclosed on Friday.

Against the backdrop of his charge to newly appointed Commissioner of Police Leslie James that he lead the way in security reform, Granger during a press conference was asked whether he didn’t think the public ought to be aware of the reforms as well as the contents of the report.

The president in response said that following his meeting with Jagdeo on Thursday he instructed that he be sent a copy of the report. “During the month of October after the recess it will be made available to the National Assembly”, he said.

“In addition to his other duties, therefore, I expect the new Commissioner to lead the process of security sector reform, which is aimed at ensuring that we have a highly motivated and better equipped, professional police force,” Granger said shortly after James, 52, took the oath of office and collected his instrument of appointment at State House.

He made it clear that government will resist any attempt from any quarter to “reverse, retort or to thwart the reforms on which we are about to embark and I look to this new team to promote those reforms vigorously to ensure that from year to year the citizens of this country see that the Guyana Police Force indeed is there to serve and to protect them”. Granger exhorted James to lead the process of security sector reform to ensure there is “a highly-motivated, better-equipped, professional police force.”

British expert Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe handed over the report to Granger on January 18th this year.  As recent as      earlier this month Granger indicated that the document was still being studied.

“We are going through it. It is a very detailed report”, he said, shortly after swearing in the members of the Police Service Commission on August 11.

In May, following a function at State House, Granger had said that it was with Cabinet and assured that it would be made public once it was presented to the National Assembly.

“The report was laid before the Cabinet and when the Cabinet has completed its deliberations it will be presented to the National Assembly and the public,” the president had said, when asked about the plan.

Asked how long it would be before it reached the public, he had said that that was dependent on when Cabinet completed its deliberations and presented the plan to the National Assembly.

“It’s nothing to hide. As you know, there are several serious security challenges, piracy …the reports being made about the prison service—the Mother’s Day party—and also within the police force. So, we are deeply concerned about the security situation and the sooner we implement those reforms, I think, the better,” he had said.

While Granger has insisted that the plan will not be shelved, observers have raised concern at the time that it is taking for the government to make the plan public.

Jagdeo had also questioned the secrecy surrounding the plan.

“You can’t reform the police force in secrecy. You have to have buy-in from everyone, including the opposition. So this decision to regionalise the force, I heard them say that before the report, is it part of the report and why and how is it going to function? So, it’s like they have made a decision,” he had said in March.

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