Guyana and the United States of America yesterday signed a Letter of Agreement (LOA) on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement that would see the nation receiving US$850,000 (G$170M).
The LOA was signed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday by Substantive Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and US Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt and falls under the implementation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
In welcoming the grant from the US, Minister Rodrigues-Birkett noted that while the CBSI programme is a regional one, there are bilateral aspects, as is demonstrated through the LOA.
She noted that crime and the trafficking of narcotics are problems that have to be confronted, but cannot be confronted by Guyana alone, hence the need for partnerships, such as the case with the US through the CBSI initiative.
The Minister acknowledged that there have been positive results emanating from the partnership and pointed to recent drug busts at the airport which she said were no doubt aided by the multiplicity of training as a result of the initiative.
Ambassador Hardt said that the agreement will build on that trust and goodwill to help strengthen Guyana’s counter-narcotics control capabilities, enhance law enforcement professionalization and support rule of law programmes.
According to the US envoy, the monies being provided under the agreement will help support and make fully operational the recently constructed forensics laboratory, help establish fully vetted counter-narcotics units, and further develop a police partnership programme.
“It includes enhanced training in police functions such as evidence gathering, interrogation methods, and case development.”
According to the Ambassador it will also focus on specialized investigations in the areas of human trafficking, gender-based violence, corruption, and money laundering.
The Ambassador noted too that funding will be dedicated to strengthening Guyana’s correction services, with a particular focus on the management and rehabilitation of juvenile detainees.
“Working together with Guyanese partners, our focus will be to share and implement international best practices designed to prevent gang recruitment in prison and to reduce recidivism rates among juvenile offenders.”
Speaking to the benefits of the programme over the past three years, the Ambassador singled out the provision of the three Metal Shark Aluminum Boats and state-of-the-art communications equipment to the Guyana Coast Guard. He also pointed to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which was handed over to Guyana last month, and the sharing of firearm information through the Regional Integrated Ballistics Information Network, that will allow law enforcement authorities to track the movement of weapons from country to country within the Caribbean.
He spoke too of the provision of firearm marking equipment through the OAS, which, together with the E-trace network, allows Guyanese law enforcement officials to share information and collaborate to reduce the threat of gun violence and crime, while helping solve outstanding cases among other tangible benefits to Guyana.
According to the Ambassador, the United States is committed to working closely with the Government and people of Guyana to combat illicit trafficking of counter-narcotics and illegal weapons, advance public security and safety, and promote social justice.
“We want the citizens of Guyana to see the benefits of improved security and social justice in a personal way: in their neighbourhoods, in their schools, along their rivers and shorelines, and in the marketplace. The only way to achieve this is for our countries to forge a reliable, long-term partnership to build capacities and enhance international collaboration to meet the threats.”