Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Govt always wanted DEA office in Guyana-Ramotar

The People’s Progressive Party ( PPP) presidential candidate Donald Ramotar said he has no objections to the setting up of a Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA) office here should he be elected president.

In an interview on Tuesday, Ramotar said international cooperation is important in fighting illicit activities here.

“ Oh sure, we have said that before, and we are ready to repeat that again,” he said when questioned about the opening of a DEA office here.

The DEA is a United States Department of Justice law enforcement agency tasked with controlling the growth of narco- trade in the U. S. In 2009, President Jagdeo acknowledged there is a critical need for radar coverage of the country’s jungles, noting the number of illegal airstrips is increasing.

He noted at that time that having a DEA office here would aid in detecting those airstrips, adding that such a partnership between the government of Guyana and the U. S. would result in tougher extradition laws.

Over the years, there have been several discussions about the establish ment of a DEA office here but an office is yet to be opened.

Only recently, head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said government’s interest in having the office here will be revived.

In 2006, then U. S. Ambassador to Guyana Ronald Bullen called for a DEA office to be set up here with urgency, noting that the drug trade here in Guyana was expanding rapidly.

He believed that having the DEA here means the country would be better able to fight drug trafficking.

Only recently, a U. S. ambassador was stationed after a two- year period of non- appointment of same.

Over the years, Guyana has made several requests to have an office set up here and local authorities in the past criticised the U. S. for its slothfulness in providing assistance in drug eradication exercises.

However, Guyana’s U. S. Ambassador D Brent Hardt recently told the media that security cooperation is a main concern and it is high on his agenda.

Meanwhile, Ramotar said under his rule he would ensure that Guyana collaborates with international agencies to fight crime here, especially as it relates to the drug trade that is on the increase.

“ I think fighting crime has to be taken in a general and total context. We can’t do it piecemeal, and we have also to seek international co operation to fight crime re gionally and further internationally.” Disciplined forces He added that it is equally important for ranks of the disciplined forces to be better trained thereby improving the intelligence capacity of the Guyana Police Force in particular. That aside, Ramotar stated that all considerations must be tied into the judicial reforms that are taking place.

“ There should be also prison reforms, so it has to be a totality of things. I don’t think we can find a sil ver bullet or a point to one thing… we can say that this will solve the crime problem permanently; it has to be a crime package of things that we have to be working on simultaneously.” He, however, noted that he is not sure that the country’s crime situation would be curbed should foreigners be invited to assist in managing the disciplined forces.

“ I don’t know if that will solve the problem, but if I get into the government and have a look at what we have generally and if I conclude then that that is something necessary to do, I will do it. At this point in time, I haven’t concluded that that is necessary.” When asked by this publication whether upon enter ing office he would move to raise the salaries of those persons employed in the disciplined forces, Ramotar said: “ As far as the economy can afford … if the economy can afford surely, but I don’t know what increases you can give to prevent people who are bent on taking bribes, because the drug trade and so forth has a lot of money in it.” The presidential hopeful said what needs to be addressed is the character of those employed in that sector.

“ I think we have to depend very strongly on people’s integrity and character.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t raise their pay, but it should not be only raising their pay but character is very, very important.” He noted that crime is an area he intends to tackle with urgency, as the crime wave in Guyana needs to be reduced. Increasing security for citizens is of utmost importance, he told Guyana Times . Backtrack ports As it relates to the many unregulated backtrack ports across the country, the PPP/ C’s presidential candidate said he will try his best to ensure that all illegal activities occurring here are curbed.

Asked specifically about backtrack ports located in the Pomeroon and Corriverton, Ramotar said he is not familiar with such specific activities.

“ I don’t know how serious a problem it is. I am not aware that it is a very serious problem: I haven’t even seen it in the media that much. I don’t know that I would want to categorise it as a very serious problem at this point in time, but generally we would want to fight all illegal type of ac tivities that take place and try to minimise these things from happening.”

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