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APNU+AFC promises hefty salary hike for law enforcers; gun amnesty, crackdown on corruption, drugs

The opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+ AFC) is promising a 20 percent salary hike for all law enforcement officers in the first year, and a crack down on white collar crime, drug trafficking and illegal guns.

With the starting salary of constables just around GY$60,000 (US$300), the coalition hopes that an initial 20 percent hike in salaries will be among several measures that will help policemen and women go after criminals. “Public security is the bedrock of a safe human society and the crime situation is both the most pressing and most depressing problem facing ordinary Guyanese today,” says the grouping in its 44-page manifesto.

If the coalition wins the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections and gets its way, soldiers would be deployed alongside police in all policing divisions as part of a special Anti Crime Unit, to be headed by a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officer on secondment, “to confront violent armed criminals.”  The coalition promised to amend the law to provide for life imprisonment after persons would have been convicted three times for violent felonies.

Civilians are to be hired to perform desk duties in the police force and so release more policemen and women on the streets.   The parties further promised to allow members of the Joint Services to work in the Administrative Region of their choice wherever practical.  Community Policing would be legalized and Citizen Policing Units would be established in keeping with global best practice.

Pledging to ensure protection of all citizens, communities and institutions from threats to their well-being, APNU+AFC intends to issue an amnesty for all illegal guns. “Implement an amnesty programme for the surrender of illegal weapons which will be backed by a ‘Voluntary Weapons Collection’ programme,” the parties said in their joint manifesto obtained by Demerara Waves Online News.

Backing up the gun amnesty, the coalition also promised to set up a special fund to provide alternative opportunities for training, development of income generating projects and the provision of credit for youth at risk. Also on the drawing board for them are sport, scouts and other cadet-like schemes in schools and religious organisations.

In the area of drug trafficking, an APNU+AFC administration is expected to grant full permission to the United States (US) Drug Enforcement  Administration (DEA) to fully establish its local facility and work along with the proposed Drug Enforcement and Control Agency (DECA). That agency  would also be responsible for the coordination and execution of the national drug enforcement policy between the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit, Police Anti Narcotics Unit, INTERPOL and other agencies.

Other crime-fighting measures, according to the coalition, would include the establishment of a Police Air Wing to be based at the Ogle International Airport, and the introduction of a Witness Protection Programme through negotiations with the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

The coalition promises to address fraud and graft by establishing and training a group of forensic auditors to target corruption and white collar crime.  APNU+AFC also wants to establish a special office in the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the employment of Special Prosecutors to prosecute persons accused of certain categories of offences.

APNU+AFC also plans to establish a Ministry of Justice and National Security to “better coordinate all aspects of public safety, border security and the National Security Strategy.

In the area of justice reform, the coalition plans to pass legislation to allow for neighborhood justice panels  of village elders to adjudicate petty matters such as anti-social behaviour and family disputes in an effort to free the courts’ time for more serious matters.