National security has been compromised

Dear Editor,

The current crisis in the security sector, brought on by the recent escape of some of the most dangerous prisoners in Guyana’s prison population from the temporary Lusignan holding facility, has gripped the nation in a frenzy of fear – not irrational, but justifiable fear — because, from corner to corner of Guyana, practically on a daily basis, there are stories emanating of violent crimes, especially armed robberies and murder in the commission of such crimes.

These people have to live. They have bodily needs that they have to fulfill, and they have a history of wresting the wherewithal of those needs by any means possible; so the average Guyanese have been targeted to provide for those needs.

The tears of the nation are flowing to rival the floods decimating nations worldwide, but these are rivers of blood flowing from eyes that are drenched with the pain from hearts wounded to unbearable proportions by the loss of loved ones, most often in the prime of their lives, brutally taken by the beasts in human form who, while robbing persons of their property, cash and other resources, have no qualms about robbing them of their lives also.

A country’s security sector bears the most responsibility for the protection of citizens from criminal elements, thus anyone tasked with the mandate of managing this vital sector should prove, over time, meritorious in the functionality and efficiency of the various arms of Government, comprising his portfolio. However, from the inception of the appointment of Khemraj Ramjattan as Security Minister, there has been one critical incident that compromised the nation’s safety after another.

The calls are escalating, even from his own party’s supporters, that he should resign, or be re-assigned, because he has clearly failed to deliver on his primary mandate – to protect the nation and formulate policies that would strengthen the various arms under his watch.

He defends the indefensible and excuses himself with one ridiculous postulation after another, when the fact is that he is unable to perform to expectations. There may be many flaws in the system; but the fact of the matter is that the buck stops at Ramjattan. His most recent utterings, while acknowledging this fact, disclaims blame on his performance and ascribes same to departmental heads, while not naming names at this point in time. There has been an inkling that the re-allocated prisoners were not securely housed at Lusignan. From previous actions of the prisoners, who proved that they are desperate enough to use desperate measures to escape, why was security not reinforced to a requisite quantum, bearing in mind Ramjattan has absolute access to soldiers and police ranks who could be deployed to address emergency situations at an instant? Did he make periodic checks to inspect the situation and gauge for himself the dire need for additional security forces? If so, why did he not act forthwith, to bring the situation under control and have the prisoners under scrutiny at all times? Digging a tunnel in what should have been a tightly guarded zone should have been a detectable activity, sending alarm bells in the hierarchy of the prison administrative system. So where did the system fail?

Heads should roll after this latest ludicrous fiasco, and the first that should go, according to popular opinion, is that of Ramjattan. The public has absolutely no confidence in him as head of the security services.


Alister Charlie

Member of Parliament