GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee has described the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) on Guyana as disappointing and misleading.
Rohee says the report, which was released last week, does not give Guyana enough credit for what it has done to combat drug trafficking.
The report said Guyana is a trans-shipment point for cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela destined for North America, Europe and the Caribbean and that, due to weak land and maritime border controls and the vast unpatrolled interior, drug traffickers are able to conduct operations without significant interference from law enforcement agencies.
It added that while the ability to detect drug shipments has received some recent investment, a lack of focused interdiction operations and the capacity to monitor and control its expansive borders hinder enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.
“Overall, Guyana’s counter-narcotics 2010 activities were challenged by the consistently marginal commitment and capacity at all levels of government, despite some achievements late in the year,” it stated, as it advised the government to effectively implement recent legislation and regulations supporting counter-narcotics efforts.
Rohee was not pleased by the report.
“I am very disappointed at the lecturing and the instructions that we have once again received. I hasten to add that the Government of Guyana is doing its utmost in making resources available to the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) and the Narcotics Branch of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to do their level best in order to fight this scourge.
“We have been doing our level best but we need more resources. This is a transnational problem; we do not manufacture cocaine in Guyana and we have never disputed the fact that Guyana is a transit point,” said Rohee, as he acknowledged the need for better monitoring of the borders.
The minister said that the source the U.S. State Department used for some of the information contained in the report also had facts and statistics related to Guyana’s efforts to combat the trade, yet they were omitted from the INCSR.
Rohee insisted that the report is void of pertinent information in relation to strategies that government has undertaken in confronting the challenges of the drug trade. Among them is an Airport Security Committee – comprising representatives from the commercial international airlines that operate at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport – which meets monthly to review security arrangements at the airport.
Also not mentioned in the report, is a task force dealing with narcotics and firearms which meets every month. In addition, Rohee said Guyana’s recent efforts in collaborating with Venezuela and Suriname were also ignored in the report.
Rohee said the Government of Guyana was upset that people “sit in a far away country and tell us what we must do and what we shouldn’t do and don’t mention the innovative steps and intense coordination that we have taken”.
With regards to the calls for Guyana to do more in terms of extradition, the Home Affairs minister said that the National Assembly had passed an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Act to facilitate an easier extradition process, but there have been no requests from the U.S. so far.