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APNU calls for special unit to address inter-personal violence

APNU’s David Granger, Deborah Backer and Winston Felix.

The APNU is calling for the creation of a special institution to tackle domestic and other inter-personal violence which it says has reached epidemic proportions over the last few years.

Leader of the Opposition and APNU David Granger told reporters on Friday that they had lost all confidence in the Ministries of Human Services and Home Affairs and the regular police units to deal with the problem.

He noted that the police had long promised to establish Domestic Violence Units but added that it appeared as though they were merely record keepers.

“There is no task force to prevent crimes and protect victims of inter-personal violence and domestic violence when and where credible threats have been identified.

APNU, therefore, calls for the establishment of a special Inter-Personal Violence Unit to pro-actively counter this raging crime. The existing Neighbourhood, Community Policing and Citizens’ Security Programmes must be given specific roles to identify human safety situations which have the potential to become violent,” Granger said.

Granger said they see the Unit being able to respond to reports and situations which show the likelihood of descending to violence instead of just being a reactionary force.

On the domestic violence front at least three women and two children were killed by the men in their lives in the last three weeks while others were severely injured in those incidents. And this week a man was killed by his female partner ending what reports say was an abusive relationship while a student nurse was doused with acid by a man as she made her way to the hospital.

“The Partnership recognises that vulnerable women and girl children must be protected by more sympathetic, better trained law enforcement agencies supported by a stronger judicial system. It recognises the need for more support systems for vulnerable women and girls in crisis and an increase of the number of safe homes for abused, battered, trafficked and sexually-exploited women and girl children,” the opposition leader said.  

He added that the early education curricula for boys and girls, beginning with the primary schools, should include the teaching of values and standards aimed at eliminating the mentality and factors that contribute to disrespect and the abuse of women and girls.

“The epidemic needs a broad-based response from all sections of society and APNU is prepared to work in and out of the National Assembly with all the agencies in order to bring this about,” Granger said.

That willingness, however, does not extend to home minister Clement Rohee, who the opposition had tried to have booted from the post on the grounds of incompetence, a position they maintain.

APNU executive Deborah Backer noted that the House unanimously passed a resolution to set up a Special Select Committee to address inter-personal violence though it had not started working.

“Whenever one of our citizens die totally unnecessarily it diminishes all of us as human beings, as Guyanese and that is the context that we want to cast inter-personal violence … it is everybody’s business,” Backer said.

Addressing the issue of resources to fund such an initiative APNU MP and former police commissioner Winston Felix said the government has to decide on its priorities.

“We are big on capital projects but we are very poor on dealing with the human side of life in Guyana and that’s why the government needs to be told by somebody that these are needs in the society which must be met. You may wish to bring on non-governmental organisations later on to fund projects of that sort.”