Police (Change Of Name) Bill 2013 – Bill No. 14/20133592 13 Jun, 2013
POLICE (CHANGE OF NAME) BILL 2013 – Bill No. 14/2013
Mr. Nandlall: Sir, I wish to begin from where you left off when we commenced the debate of this Bill, by pointing out that the issue of changing the name of the Guyana Police Force is not one of recent; it has been with us for a long time. You correctly pointed out, Sir, that it came out as a recommendation of the Disciplined Forces Commission. The Hon. Leader of the Opposition was a member of the Commission. Of significance, I believe every organisation, which came before that Commission to testify, advocated the change of a name from ‘Force’ to ‘Service’, including the People’s National Congress, which is a major part of APNU. Perhaps the position of that party has changed. I am not sure.
The human rights organisations, in particular, added that. There were a whole host of committees that sought to canvass the cause against allegations of extra-judicial killing and allegations against police brutality. All those organisations that came spoke about a milieu of measures which they advocated must take place in the Guyana Police Force to bring about the change which they want to see. It is a change that would make the Police into a more service-oriented organisation, change its nature and character from that of a paramilitary institution and a regimented institution to a civilian-type organisation.
It is not, Mr. Speaker, a mere change of name; it was accompanied by a philosophy of a change of character and a change of function. That would have crystallised into a change of the quality and type of service which the organisation was supposed to have been rendering.
Even the motto of the organisation was examined and it was felt that this name change was more in keeping with the motto of “to protect and serve the people of Guyana”. It was felt, in keeping with this philosophical as well as practical and realistic change, that functions of the organisation be dissected so that the Police Force will almost have a civilian arm and then the proper and technical police arm, where civilian-type services, for example, the issuance of fitness for vehicles, clerical and typist services that are being done in the Force now, but are being done by trained police personnel, would migrate to civilian personnel and proper and core police functions will stay with the police who are trained to perform those services. So, at any given time, we would not have the constant paucity of human resources in our Police Force.
It is not a name change which is taking place here, but a transformation of the Guyana Police Force. The comprehensive security reform programme, which is now being administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a compendium of a whole host of recommendations, including those culled from the Disciplined Forces Commission and many other expert consultancies which would have been done over the years. The recommendations coming out of these various sources are what is contained in that programme now being adumbrated and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Those who believe that this is a mere cosmetic change and a change of form devoid of any accompanying substance are wrong.
Often times, Members of the other side, Hon. Member Mr. Felix and others, would lament about the quality of service which the citizenry receive at the hands of the Police. The Government is doing a lot to change that. [Members (Opposition): By changing the name.] Apparently, the Opposition continue to say that it is only a change of name, though I have spent some considerable amount of time to explain that it is a change of name accompanied by corresponding change of substance and policy. So, it is not a cosmetic change.
Many of the Bills, the Bill that you have rejected today to do with the Fire Service, are part of that architecture of change. The change that you have rejected, when you rejected the Fire Arm Bill, was part of those reforms.
Sir, during the recess, you appealed to Members of the House to put aside our differences and recognise, at the end of the day, that we stand to serve one purpose. That purpose is to ensure that we represent, we canvass and we advance the welfare of our people and those whom we represent. That should be our only consideration. Clearly, we are seeing that the Members of the Opposition are not prepared to represent and to do what is in the best interest of their constituents. [Interruption] I will wait on them, Mr. Speaker, for when they are prepared for me to resume.
We must not make these hallowed statements about coming here to do what is right for our country and, when the opportunity presents itself, we do not deliver. This has nothing to do with Minister Rohee. All the work of the Disciplined Forces Commission, the recommendations that we have clambered so long to have implemented are all going to be thrown out of the window because Minister Rohee will stand to engineer them to the House. Is that how we are going to treat the Disciplined Forces Commission Report? Because Minister Rohee is the instrumentality through which they will come, they will all be rejected. Is that the message we are sending to the people of this country? [Members (Opposition): That is right.] Well the people are listening. All the changes and all the organisations who came before that Commission and asked for that name change to take place must now be told that name change cannot take place because the Opposition has a problem with a man named Clement Rohee. That is the way the Opposition is going to represent their constituencies’ interests. We have a lot of work to do. [Mr. Hinds: We have to persuade them.] I have no difficulty in persuading them.
The Bill that is before this House is a Bill that is part of larger milieu of change that the Government is seeking to bring to the Police Force, an organisation that needs improvement and that needs constant reform if we are going to continue to prepare our law enforcement agencies to tackle the question of crime.
Minister Rohee issued a call. We cannot put a divided posture up when it comes to important social problems like crime. That is what we are doing here. When we are not supporting measures which are taken against criminals... In my humble view, Sir, the fight against crime has only two sides. You either stand on the side of the criminals or you stand on the side of the law.
Thank you very much. [Applause]
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