Gov’t promises inquiry into killing of Miner; points to security challenges in hinterland

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Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the Natural Resources Ministry will be launching an inquiry into the murder of a Brazilian Miner, allegedly at the hands of a Police Constable.

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Wednesday called on President David Granger to launch a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the “ongoing neglect, corruption, shakedown and extortion and now murder of miners at the hands of the security forces and appointed government officers.”

Thirty-seven-year-old Estevao Costa Marques, a miner was shot and killed, allegedly by a police constable on Saturday last in the Puruni District.

The GGDMA described the shooting as an “extra-judicial killing,” noting that “this is the latest in a series of contemptuous actions being meted out by the Government of Guyana against the mining industry, starting even at the highest level.”

The Police Constable and a Subordinate Officer were arrested for the murder of the Miner.

At a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Minister Harmon said the shooting will be thoroughly investigated.

“Ultimately, the security in these areas rests with the Guyana Police Force and so that where there is a situation like that which developed, it is going to be investigated.

“We have said that anytime a…life is lost by unnatural means…there must be some inquiry into the circumstances which led to the death of that person. So there is going to be an inquiry,” the State Minister said.

The GGDMA in its Wednesday statement launched a scathing attack on the government, accusing it of neglecting the sector.

However, the State Minister said the shooting of the Miner, allegedly by a police officer is “aberration rather than the norm.”

He added that the norm is that the police force provides security for citizens including miners.

Harmon admitted that it is challenging to provide security in hinterland regions.

While he noted that the Government pays “careful attention” to security in these regions, he said “the effectiveness of our police force and providing security for this area is something which is a bit of a challenge.”

The Minister alluded to the restructuring of the police force to increase senior officers in the hinterland and the introduction of Corps of Wardens –a collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources. He added that the Government is aggressively pursuing the use of drones to increase monitoring of the mining areas.

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