…as Guyana’s Security Minister leads team to Suriname
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, accompanied by Deputy Crime Chief, Michael Kingston; and Deputy Commander B Division (Berbice), Wayne De Harte, on Saturday evening departed Guyana for Suriname to meet with their security counterparts following the recent spate of pirate attacks on Guyanese fishermen.
While there, they are expected to be briefed on the matter by law enforcements officers and to meet with the Security Minister of that country to work on plans to keep the waters safe from piracy.
In addition, seven relatives of missing fishermen were provided with the necessary documentation to travel to Suriname to join in the search for their loved ones.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Crime Chief Paul Williams explained that the team is expected to return on Tuesday while confirming that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been in contact with their counterparts since the incidents took place.
He added with the planned visit, additional information will be provided on the attacks and those who are presently in custody in Suriname.
To date, he noted that seven Guyanese, who now reside in Suriname, were arrested along with the three who were arrested on the Corentyne. The Crime Chief explained that news coming out of Suriname suggested that the attacks are gang related but this is yet to be confirmed.
Nevertheless, he reiterated that the GPF will give the necessary support the Surinamese law enforcement to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On that note, Williams stated that those arrested in Suriname will be charged in that jurisdiction but once the Surinamese authorities request that the addition three from Guyana be prosecuted there, arrangements will be put in place for them to be handed over.
Two Saturdays ago, four boats were attacked, and the fishermen were beaten and thrown overboard. Four of them reportedly survived the attack while the bodies of three were so far recovered.
Those identified as missing are: Ramesh Sanchara, Ganesh Persaud, Vickey Persaud, Glenroy Jones, Bharat Heralall, Ralph Anthony, and Tiaknauth Mohabir. The bodies that were recovered are yet to be positively identified.
However, a few days after that attack, another boat was attacked and the captain, Hardeo Beechan was killed while his crew went missing. The relatives of the missing men have called on the Government of Guyana to assist them in their search.
So far, the Surinamese officials have been facilitating the searches in territorial waters with the aim of finding the missing men. In light of these incidents, fishermen – both in Guyana and Suriname – have suspended operations claiming that the waters have become quite “dangerous”.
On Thursday last, Surinamese Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Minister, Lekhram Soerdjan, convened a meeting with Visserscollectief – the organ that represents the fishermen and various proposals were made by the Board.
After that meeting, it was reported that a Government coordination team led by Justice and Police Minister, Stuart Getrouw, as well as Ministers Soerdjan and Ronni Benschop of the Defence Ministry, had another meeting to discuss the tragedy.
Minister Getrouw stated that the Government of Suriname is already in contact with neighbouring countries to bring clarity to the heinous tragedy. However, the Surinamese Government emphasised that the issue is dealt with by the relevant authorities with the necessary diligence, tact and seriousness.
More in custody
Meanwhile, sources in Suriname told Guyana Times that at least 26 persons have been arrested but the Police remain tight-lipped about the situation. It was reported that one man was arrested on Thursday morning and another six were nabbed later that evening.
Additional suspects, according to the source, were arrested between Friday and Saturday. Further, a rally was held on Saturday, which saw fishermen and their relatives in their numbers calling on the Surinamese Government to work in ensuring that the sea is once again safe to ply their trade. Many Guyanese fishermen participated in the event.