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Suriname, Guyana to jointly patrol Corentyne River

Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee (centre) flanked by GDF Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Gary Best (left); Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell and GRA Commissioner General, Kurshid Sattaur.

Guyana and Suriname have agreed to jointly patrol the border Corentyne River to clamp down on illegal activities, Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Rear Admiral Gary Best said on Thursday.

If all goes well, he hopes that the joint patrols by the GDF Coast Guard and the Suriname Navy could begin in another six months.

Authorities hope to clamp down on piracy, illegal fishing and illegal smuggling of guns, ammunition, drugs, human trafficking, illegal migration and violation of customs duties by businessmen.

Best, however, acknowledged the need for technical teams and Attorneys General of the neighbouring South American countries to discuss who would have the right of arrest because the Corentyne River is Suriname’s territory. “The issue of jurisdiction obviously has to be dealt with and that will be dealt with at the highest level,” he said. Best, himself a trained lawyer and a long serving Coast Guardsman, envisaged that Guyanese and Surinamese caught on the river could be taken to their respective countries for prosecution.

“What we are attempting to do is to work within the river and avoid the issue of any conflict over the rights of the river. It’s really do to do with law enforcement,” Best added.

Best, Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Kurshid Sattaur and Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee brief the media on their meeting with counterparts in Suriname from September 6 to 7.

The GDF Chief of Staff said fishermen would have to be educated about maritime jurisdiction. Rights of innocent passage, fishing, commerce and economics would not be affected

Dating back to the early 1900s when Guyana and Suriname were British and Dutch colonies, the European powers had agreed that the line of the deepest channel in the Corentyne was the boundary between the two territories.’

The Police Commissioner and the GRA Commissioner-General also welcomed the plan for joint patrols of the Corentyne River.

The Home Affairs Minister said the two countries have not only agreed to share intelligence about trans-boundary criminal activities but also to explore the possibility of signing a Suriname-Guyana extradition agreement.