Home Letters Armed raid and arrests at hotel not warranted
Attention is drawn to the raid and arrest of guests of Sleepin Hotel. There was a clear violation of the laws and of enforcement of COVID rules by the ranks. A raid was not necessary.
In perusing the laws of Guyana on licensing for hotels and for restaurants and bars operating within those premises, Cap 88:22, Part 4, Sec 21 (3), hotels are permitted 24 hours’ operation and service (travellers) to their guests. As stated in the Official Gazette (Feb 26, 2021), a document signed by the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, hotels are granted 24 hours’ operation, and, by extension, to provide 24 hours of service to guests.
A hotel is not simply a restaurant and bar, and can’t be equated with either or both. One cannot deny guests food and drinks – that is an essential service of hotels, besides lodging. Of course, as stated in the gazette, hotels and all businesses are mandated to enforce wearing of masks, social distancing, hand-washing stations, sanitising stations, and other health and safety protocols.
The Ministry of Tourism (Police department) is responsible for enforcing COVID protocols and rules. Enforcement of rules can’t apply to providing service at a hotel; they apply to protocols like masking.
Follow the gazette.
Heavily armed ranks, dressed in military fatigues and carrying AK-47 rifles, descended on the premises of Sleepin hotel. This was a joint services’ operation. Roads were blocked off. There was no warning. Guests and travellers were simply rounded up and herded and taken to Police lock-up. The very COVID protocols that ranks came to enforce were violated by themselves. gear in, joint services. Who sent the ranks there, and why? Was the PM’s Office informed? Do the ranks or their supervisor know the laws and rules?
Based on the laws of Guyana, during a raid, the Police or ranks could arrest a guest or those present in a hotel only if he or she refuses to provide name and address, or if the Police believe that guest was untruthful in providing name and address (suspected of providing false information).
It would seem to me that the Police violated the laws when they raided Sleepin hotel last weekend. The hotel was providing legitimate service to guests and travellers. No one was legitimately charged for violating protocols or rules. The Police arrested and charged hotel proprietor Mr Bacchus. He was not defiant, and he did not provide false information on his identity or address. Mr Bacchus lives at the hotel, and is well known in the public domain. Clearly, he was wrongly arrested.
Also, guests had a legitimate right to be at the hotel, and if they are not defiant and/or not violating COVID rules and regulations, the Police lack power to quiz them and/or to make arrests.
The State must make amends.
There was wrongful detention. Bacchus and others were humiliated. Should Mr Bacchus seek compensation?