Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stella Says…The PNCR is Making Its Move

by Stella Ramsaroop

I was recently sent a draft of the PNCR’s Crime Reduction Plan (CRP) in response to a criticism I extended in respect to what I believe to be the their largely ‘missing in action’ contribution as the opposition party in relation to the constant onslaught of criminal activities (and quite frankly in many other areas as well).

In this review, I will highlight the aspects I feel are deserving of praise as well as those that are weak. However, I want to state once again, just as I did in regards to the AFC and Raphael Trotman, I am not a PNC supporter. I held the AFC’s feet to the fire on the parliamentary seat issue and then justly applauded Trotman when he finally did what was right.

Likewise, I have praise the PPP in the past for minor feats and also reproached them when needed. If Robert Persaud, MBA ever gave me something for which to commend him, I would even pay him his dues (though I would probably have to be drunk off my keister first).

This time, it is the PNC’s turn. I have taken periodical potshots at them for being the absentee opposition, but it seems they are ready to start marketing themselves as a viable option for the next elections. Therefore, I will gladly oblige their effort.

In fact, in the coming months I plan to explore the political strategies and agendas of the various parties with the intention of pulling out the high-quality portions that can best benefit Guyana and exposing the areas that are feeble and wanting. It is when these various notions are tossed around in the public arena for debate that Guyana can choose which ones have merit and which ones should be filed under “J” for junk.

In my estimation, it was a bold move by the PNCR to forward this document to me since I have a tendency to be quite critical at times. It’s a pesky little trait that I just can’t seem to shake (not that I have ever tried to shake it). However, I also try to be fair and it quickly became quite obvious to me why they were so confident. Their strategy is good, darn good.

I spent a good amount of time over the holiday break poking holes in this plan and it still holds water – like the streets of Guyana during a heavy rain. Though Hamley Case, PNCR Central Executive Member, informed me that this is a work in progress, it is nonetheless fairly comprehensive.

The plan approached the more commonplace issues with innovative methods that were impressive and tackled the sensitive issues, such as the Buxton situation, with a synergy of vigour and kid glove that acknowledged the depth of the problem yet treated the general community with consideration and respect.

Commendably, a large portion of the draft was dedicated to “narco-criminality.” It was good to see so much consideration given to what I consider Guyana’s most urgent problem. Another aspect I thought merited attention was the intention to build “Crime Reduction Centres within troubled Communities.” It seems these centres would act as satellite points for law enforcement and crime prevention, even to the point of establishing a type of mini-judicial system that would handle “low-level crime” acts within the local community.

Evidently, these centres would also send officers into the community to act as agents of crime deterrence and to steer people away from crime. I like this notion, however, there are a couple issues that seem to present themselves right away – the ongoing corruption within the law enforcement system and the lack of finances to implement this program. In fact, I found myself asking the same question of financing with almost every new idea outlined.

I like that the plan presupposes community involvement, puts prisoners to work in an attempt to teach them a trade and has a strong emphasis on rehabilitation for as many as possible. In fact, I have often wondered why prisoners are not assigned canal-cleaning duty. Then I remembered the inefficiency and corruption that is widespread within the current law enforcement system and chucked that idea right out the window. However, the PNCR’s plan moves the prison from its highly precarious position in the city into a less populated area that can be cultivated into training fields for the prisoners to take agricultural classes.

I could spend a considerable amount of time talking about the remarkable aspects of this extensive document, but my column can only be so long and I want to talk about some aspects I found to be wanting as well. For example, the suggested employment of “modern and effective interrogation practices” without a clear indication that strict guidelines would be observed to deter the inhumane treatment of prisoners or at least an expressed condemnation of such activities.

However, my biggest beef was how little consideration was afforded to domestic violence and the VERY obvious omission of a plan to address the issues of sexual assault, paedophilia and human trafficking. I simply cannot believe that the PNC sent ME a crime strategy that did not incorporate a systematic plan to deal with rape. What were you thinking? Didn’t you know this would be the very first thing I looked for?

I used a printed copy for my initial review and when I could not find even one reference for a plan to curtail sexual assault, I reverted to my computer document and conducted a word search with the hope that somehow I had missed it. My search rendered nothing more than “confidence building measures” for victims of sexual crimes and a measly workshop on how women can protect themselves. What about how Guyana is going to protect the women?

How can you deal with issues like littering and public urination, yet leave out one of the most crucial aspects of crime in Guyana like rape? I give the PNCR full credit for a brilliant piece of work; however, no crime reduction strategy is complete without a far-reaching stratagem for dealing with sexual predators.

I am going to be brutally honest with the PNC. I think most of your crime plan is brilliant. It has just the flare you need to reshape your party into a new and revitalised entity. I noticed your piece on the Diaspora from Sunday’s paper too and it is clear that you are making your move. It is about time. Overall, this is just the type of crime reduction strategy that Guyana needs right now.

However, it really ticks me off that you completely neglected the welfare and protection of Guyana’s women.

I have said this before and I am going to say it again; no party in Guyana deserves to participate in the upcoming elections if they have not included women’s issues in their platform. Hamley, I do hope this was a mistake of some kind and I just did not receive this vital part of your crime reduction plan. When you find the rest of your strategy, I would be happy to review it again.

Email: stellasays[at]gmail.com

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