Adamant that there is nothing to hide, President David Granger has revealed that the Security Sector Reform report is currently before Cabinet, who are reviewing its findings and recommendations.
President Granger made this disclosure on Wednesday on the sidelines of an event, when asked about the United Kingdom-funded programme. The President admitted that his Government has faced challenges with its handling of the security sector.
“The report was made available to the Cabinet. And the Cabinet has approved of its recommendations. It is before Cabinet now and once Cabinet have completed its deliberations, it’s nothing to hide.”
“As you know, there are some issues with security challenges. Piracy, in terms of reports being made and the prison service,” Granger listed, adding that “the sooner we implement those reforms the better.”
In March, it had been reported that Granger was studying the recommendations of the report. The report was compiled by British security expert Russell Combe. He first presented his final report in January.
There have been several training initiatives for locals where British specialists have been involved. Last year, local immigration officers underwent the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) training conducted by the UK’s Immigration Enforcement International.
The training covered three fundamental issues: the overview of human trafficking, the enhancing of interview skills when dealing with arriving passengers and overall increased awareness of the latest trends and concerns in the wider Caribbean.
The UK has done much of its security sector collaboration through the security reform project, which began in 2007. Government believes that, once implemented, Guyana’s security sector will be significantly strengthened.
President David Granger has also said there is need for a stronger Police Force; one that is better equipped with all tools necessary to function adequately. He has therefore expressed hope that the reform programme will lead to a reduction in the number of illicit activities that take place.
But there have been a number of security breaches, including in the Camp Street Prison on July 9, 2017 when prisoners set that facility on fire, occasioning its complete destruction except for a newly built brick building which is still standing intact.
In the ensuing confusion, a number of prisoners managed to escape from lawful custody, including convicted murderers Mark Royden Durant, also called “Royden Williams”; Uree Varswyck; Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander and Cobena Stephens – all deemed armed and dangerous. That incident resulted in the death of Prison Officer Odinga Wickham, who lost his life after he was shot by prisoners during the breakout.
Following that jailbreak, over 1000 prisoners were displaced. While some were moved to the correctional facility at Mazaruni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) or granted early release or bail, others had remained at another correctional facility at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara under straightened circumstances. It was then that another contingent escaped. Since these two jailbreaks, all but two prison escapees – Paul Goriah and Cobena Stephens have either been recaptured or killed.
It was only in March 2016 that another fire raged through the Camp Street Prison, claiming the lives of 17 prisoners. Afterwards, a Commission of Inquiry which cost the Treasury some $13 million was ordered by President David Granger.