Police working day and night to restore security
--Says Home Affairs Minister
Guyana Chronicle
October 30, 2002

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"I want to let the public know that the Police have been working day and night to bring this country to an acceptable level of security, safety and well being and they have spared no effort nor left any stone unturned in their efforts to arrest the crime wave and to deal with criminals and criminal activities.

"These situations, as and when they arise, and with respect of what spin some sections of the press, particularly those who have ostensibly shown their alignment with the opposition, (who) might want to vilify law enforcement agencies, not to mention the Minister of Home Affairs and certain officials of the Government, we will continue in our anti-crime fight and we will resolve even more to deal in a condign fashion with criminals and to bring the current crime wave to an acceptable level," Gajraj told reporters yesterday afternoon.

The Home Affairs Minister pointed out that he did not say that the Police Force would "eradicate crime altogether" but that it "will deal with the crime situation" since it takes time.

There has been much talk about intelligence, and the situation Monday morning came into being because of certain developments and the Police were quick to capitalise on the advantage and the opportunity that presented itself. As a result of which we have been able to arrive at a certain position," Gajraj asserted.

Two of the February 23 prison escapees were among seven persons killed in separate shooting incidents in the City and on the East Coast Demerara area Monday morning.

The Home Affairs Minister also reiterated his call to members of the public to continue to support the Police in their anti-crime fight. "The challenges faced by the Police are great, their risks are numerous and I feel sure that while I want to apologise to the residents in the neighbouring communities, particularly Lamaha Gardens/Section 'K' Campbellville and further afield for the trauma that they might have experienced, I want to think that they might help to appreciate the challenges which the Police face, the risks to which they are exposed and we welcome your support," he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Gajraj also issued an appeal to the media in Guyana to exercise responsibility in the manner in which they handle crime related matters.

"We urge media houses not to deliberately engage in speculation and over dramatisation of events but to lean on the side of established and verified evidence," Gajraj said.

It is against this background that the Minister condemned, in the strongest terms possible, what he considered to be "wicked, malicious and irresponsible", the statements by certain sections of the media suggesting that he had left the country sometime Monday morning.

"A simple check with the Ministry of Home Affairs would have been able to verify whether I departed the country or notů(but) that course was not pursued," he pointed out.

"I am therefore propelled to an almost inevitable conclusion that the pronouncement was deliberate and calculated to achieve a certain objective -- to create a platform to ridicule and vilify the Minister and the Police's anti-crime efforts," Gajraj asserted.

"I want to say unequivocally, that the Ministry of Home Affairs and in particular the Guyana Police Force for which I have governmental, parliamentary and statutory responsibility, strongly subscribes to the belief that the media -- both print and electronic -- can play a positive role in the fight against crime whilst fulfilling its obligations towards providing fair, impartial and accurate reporting to the public," Gajraj said.

"We have always sought to provide information and updates to the press as far as the releases do not compromise the work of ongoing investigations or place any of the members of the Guyana Police Force or innocent civilians at risk (and) in these instances, what might be considered information gaps may develop which may entice journalists to enter into the realm of conjecture and speculation to fill these gaps," he said.

"The natural consequence is that confusion and misinformation ensue and spread like wildfire, and this can make our work much more difficult," he added.

The Minister also claimed that there are some media houses, which go out of their way to glorify suspects and criminals and to adjudicate on their innocence without having the evidence to support these conclusions.

In some instances, this can lead to unjustified criticism and impair public confidence in the work of the Police Force, he pointed out.

"The press must be aware that members of the Force have come under attack in recent times and many of our ranks have lost their lives. Irresponsible reporting can therefore work more towards the benefit of the criminals rather than to law and order," Minister Gajraj added.
(Mark Ramotar)