Guyana to launch gun amnesty


GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Guyana Government says it will implement a gun amnesty programme from September 1.

In recent months Guyana law enforcement authorities have had to deal with crimes involving the use of guns and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said the programme, under which people with illegal guns and ammunition are being urged to hand them over to the authorities without facing prosecution, will be for one month only.

Ramjattan said that the programme is one in a number of options that will be utilised to reduce the level of crime, violence and insecurity in the country.

“As it were, we have to do a lot more to prevent these arms and ammunition from coming in through the very long borders that we have with Brazil and Venezuela and even those brought  through custom security,” Ramjattan said.

He said that reducing the number of illegal firearms on the streets and gun-related crime will be a hard task, but one that the new government is prepared to carry out.

“We are trying and one of the things that we will have to try is this option of voluntary handing over these illegal weapons to the police station,” he said.

The public security minister said that, it is important that the gun amnesty programme be given a trial in Guyana.

He said the measure has been tried and tested in many other countries, and has proven to be a very useful option of getting illegal weapons off the street.

Ramjattan said the authorities are now drafting the order to ensure the operationalisation of the amnesty, which would be gazette very soon.

He said too, that the Ministry of Public Security is working to finalize all the places where members of the public who want to, can voluntary turn in their weapons under the programme.

He said that churches and faith-based organisations that already work with the police on the ‘Cops and Faith Programme’ will be involved in overseeing the gun amnesty programme.

“Those who are then caught with an illegal firearm after the amnesty period will have to face the full brunt of the law after (the amnesty),” Ramjattan said, reminding the country that the penalty is largely a jail term for being in unlawful possession of a firearm.