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“Integrity testing” before top police promotions- Pres. Ramotar

Centre: President Donald Ramotar, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud with senior officers gathered for their annual conference.

The Guyana government will require “integrity testing” of persons tipped for promotion to top positions in the police force, President Donald Ramotar announced on Thursday.

Addressing the opening of the Guyana Police Force’s annual officers’ conference, the Guyanese leader said the move would be aimed at weeding out corrupt persons from the law enforcement agency.

“In future, appointments to some senior positions and some new organisation that we are creating, there must be some form of integrity testing.

Some of this is happening in some areas already but we have to ensure that the force that is empowered to ensure our safety our criminals are themselves free from such elements,” said Ramotar.

Government has in the recent past conducted lie detector tests for agents of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), Guyana Revenue Authority and the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF).

The President’s announcement was made against the background of a number of concerns about the prosecution of persons charged with murder and other senior offences as well as traffic policemen and women taking bribes.

Among the recent “heartrending” examples are the court’s discharge of a murder case against Rondy Jagdeo because of the absence of key witnesses and his subsequent departure from the court on a waiting motorcycle. Ramotar also recalled that cricketer, Carlyle Barton was freed although he had been seen on surveillance video pulling a gun and shooting dead Shawn Nelson on Orange Walk.

“These things we have to put a stop to. If we do not, we will encourage an avalanche of crime in our society,” said the Guyanese leader. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers has since taken steps to reopen those cases.

Barton is wanted again now that the Preliminary Inquiry has reopened.

DPP Shalimar Hack later told reporters that she has formally requested the depositions in the Rondy Jagdeo case and she has asked the police to locate and interview the witness who had not testified at the Preliminary Inquiry.

The President also chided the police for poor prosecution or lack of preparation for cases, failure to master facts and law in criminal cases, failure to secure attendance of material witnesses to the court, failure to warn witnesses to attend curt and he failure to apply for summonses to ensure witnesses attend court. He also pointed to other concerns such as discrepancies in evidence between police statements and oral evidence and police officers and the “totally unacceptable failing” of police officers to attend court.

“We would like to see a qualitative improvement in prosecutions,” he said or the country risked being trapped in an “avalanche of crime”.

The Police Officers’ Annual Conference is being held under the theme “Continuing Modernization With Special Focus on Developing Public Trust and Capacity Building Through Partnerships”.