The public security situation in Guyana has deteriorated drastically since Clement Rohee’s appointment as General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on 19th August 2013 and his assumption of duties as his party’s elections campaign manager.
Mr. Rohee, when asked by the media at the time about whether he (Rohee) would retain his portfolio as Minister of Home Affairs as well as General Secretary of the PPP, given the demands of the public security sector, responded “that is something that we will obviously have to look at some time down the road.” The entire country is now “down the road” as far as violent crime and police misconduct are concerned.
Mr. Rohee usually seems to have much to say about correcting the list of electors and criticising the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) at the PPP’s weekly press conferences as general and regional and local government elections approach. He has a lot less to say, however, about his efforts to correct the daily abuses committed by rogue policemen in the GPF or about the deteriorating security situation which concerns most Guyanese.
Mr. Rohee seems to have put his Party’s elections prospects before human safety and public security. It is no surprise, therefore, that there has been an alarming deterioration in police morale and behaviour and an escalation in the rate of violent crime. Armed robbery, murder, suicide, rape, road and river deaths, piracy and other forms of inter-personal violence are rampant.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at one time was receiving about 364 complaints every year or, on average, one complaint a day, against members of the Guyana Police Force. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigates allegations of misconduct against members of the Force. It is staffed by uniformed policemen who conduct investigations only into such matters as are referred to it by the Commissioner.
Several policemen have had to be charged for criminal behaviour before the civil courts. Others have faced moderate, internal disciplinary sanctions as a result of misdemeanours reported to the PCA and OPR. Complaints of offences range from attempting to pervert the course of justice, illegal possession of arms and ammunition, inflicting grievous bodily harm, larceny, murder, rape and trafficking in persons.
Other complaints against the Police, made particularly to the PCA, have been about policemen acting in a manner likely to bring discredit to a member of the Force; corrupt transactions; illegal searches; lack of civility to a member of the public; neglect of duty unlawful arrest; the use of unnecessary force and, most gravely, unlawful killings.
The Guyana Police Force, for which Rohee has ministerial responsibility, is facing serious challenges. It needs not only to reduce crime in the country but, also, to suppress crime within its ranks.
Mr. Rohee, if he cannot do two jobs – public security and political campaigning – should do one, preferably the latter.