A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is alarmed at the rising rate of violent crime, especially armed robbery, murder, suicide, rape, road and river deaths, piracy and other inter-personal violence.
The Guyana Police Force occasionally releases partial statistics on violent crime. The data published last week for the period 1stJanuary to 30th September 2014 are incomplete but, nevertheless, point to a dangerous deterioration in the state of human safety.
The President and Minister of Home Affairs have been silent on the current surge in violent crimes over the period (January-September 2014):
- Armed robbery: The Police reported that there had been an increase of 15 per cent in the number of armed robberies involving the use of firearms and a two per cent increase in armed robberies in which instruments other than firearms were used. The rate of ‘robbery under arms’ increased by 11 percent.
- Murder and suicide: Data for suicide are not usually made available. Former Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy had reported that approximately 180-200 people die as a result of suicide every year. Guyana, with 26.4 suicides per 100,000 people (2006), is said to have the fourth highest suicide rate in the world. In terms of homicide, one hundred and seven persons have been murdered compared to 100 for a similar period last year.
- Rape and other inter-personal violence: Data for rape are not usually made available. The US Department of State’s Report on Human Rights calculated that, during 2012, authorities charged 102 persons for the crime of rape. Only 28 of these were convicted; 89 persons were charged with statutory rape and four were convicted. Several non-governmental organisations recently launched public protests to call attention to official attitudes to reports of the rape and sexual assault of indigenous women in the hinterland.
- Road deaths: Fatalities resulting from road traffic accidents surged to 100 compared to 75 fatalities for a similar period in 2013.
- River and piracy deaths: Data for piracy attacks are not usually made available. The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) reported 12 deaths and the disappearance of eight persons ‘lost at sea’ as a result of marine accidents and violent attacks by pirates on fishermen and other marine workers during the first half of 2014. A Surinamese government official criticised Guyana’s response to piracy stating that, “Pirates come from Guyana and are deliberately targetting their countrymen who illegally fish in Suriname, knowing that they cannot turn for help to the Surinamese authorities.” Decomposed bodies have occasionally been found on the river banks, suggesting that victims had been killed and dumped overboard.
Violent crime is sucking the oxygen out of economic development. Guyana is becoming an increasingly dangerous country. The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Caribbean Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security Report 2012 identified Guyana as a country affected by high levels of crime that is hindering development.
That Report confirmed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Crime, Violence and Development: Trends, Costs and Policy Options in the Caribbean Report of 2007 that noted that high rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are undermining growth, threatening human welfare and impeding social development.
A Partnership for National Unity calls on political parties, trade unions and civil society organisations to demand that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration provide greater protection of citizens from violent crime. The President and his Minister of Home Affairs must explain to the nation exactly how they intend to stop the surge in violent crime.