Guyana Resource Center
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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hopefully no one was holding their breath waiting for the government to take decisive and judicious action on crime. A full month following the heinous murder of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and three others there is no sign that the government has a plan or is even marshalling one. As we expected there was a lot of palaver: the gunmen were from Buxton, we know who they are, there will be major changes in the security services if there are no results and we have written to the western governments for help.

To date, nothing tangible has emerged from any of these statements. Buxton has been further demonized and the army has encamped there but not a single suspect in the Sawh case has been apprehended. The government now says that the intellectual authors of the murders are being searched for. When last has the police force been able to construct a case ensnaring the remote intellectual author of a crime let alone successfully prosecute it? This will be one to see. Thus far the army's presence in Buxton can only be described as showmanship and a dangerous one at that as there can be all types of clandestine activity playing out that it is in not in touch with. The longer it stays there without producing the gunmen from the backdam the closer its mission will verge on failure. So if this was a major pillar of the government's response to the Sawh killing then it has not worked.

In terms of police investigative action there is no progress. The police have been silent on this case since the first few days after the crime. Stunning. A minister of the government, two of his siblings and a security guard are gunned down mercilessly and it is all as if this horrible episode must be consigned to memory banks to be recited with a partisan twist in decades to come but never to be solved. Certainly by now since there are no results to show the government would have been expected to lift its effort to some other level.

This is where that other expectation raised should have kicked in quickly: external help. The government has written to Washington, London and Ottawa seeking assistance. Perhaps it is all hush-hush but surely the populace could at least be told what was asked for or envisaged. Is it police advisors, commander-level policemen, forensics help or detectives? Whatever it was it is already late and the trail that was to be followed has been covered over.

The lack of action and the elections mode that the country finds itself in would lead cynics to question whether this wasn't the type of situation that the government could milk for all its worth for electoral gain. Sadly, the reality of this situation is while the government and the security forces have no results to show for a whole series of horrendous crimes, citizens live in a state of fear, many continue to leave for good or plan to do so and a great uncertainty shrouds the country and its prospects from the interest of investors, tourists and others.

No one is expecting the government to direct a crime response on the scale of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. What they expect though is an urgent common sense response that is cognizant of the shortcomings of the police force and sets time bound tasks. When these fail then plans B and C must kick in whatever these are. And there are many other areas and interstices where a thinking, throbbing government can act: the ease of availability of guns of all sizes and calibre continues to fuel this bloody assault on law order. What about a limited amnesty or a buy-back? Nothing has been done on this front except for mumblings from the government on how difficult it is to patrol the country's borders. That is true but it doesn't mean that one must simply throw one's hands up in the air in resignation.

The thriving illegal licence plate business is another area as in many others where the government and the police have failed to act. The government is now without law making fiat since the dissolution of Parliament, hobbling any new effort to fight crime. All the more disconcerting as new and toothy anti-money laundering legislation was to have been presented for passage so that inroads could be made into this business and that of drug trafficking; another glaring failure of this government.

It is just not acceptable for the government to sit and sit and allow murders and other reprehensible crimes to go unsolved. Here is a sample of the more shocking ones that remain unsolved from recent months: Jack Rambarran, August 2005; Daniel Thompson, December 2005; Ronald Waddell, January 2006; the murder of eight persons at Agricola, February 26, 2006; the disappearance of the AK-47s, February 27, 2006; the murder of Minister Sawh and three others, March 22, 06. When will the government act?