…law enforcement needs to be better equipped – security advisor…social reform needed as preventative measureBy Jarryl BryanDomestic violence-related killings are being perpetrated locally with seeming impunity, and United Kingdom-based Senior Security Advisor to President Granger, Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Russel Combe, recognising the severity of the issue and the need to take action, told this publication in an interview that the scourge must be dealt with in a two-pronged way; one: build Police capacity to investigate and take necessary action; and two: institute social reform.“Domestic violence, I realise, is an issue. It’s a scourge in every society, but it’s making sure the Police are equipped with the tools to do their jobs in terms of being able to investigate, detect, and solve any such crimes (that really matter),” Combe declared.Security Advisor Russel CombeWhile domestic violence comes under security reform, Combe noted, preventative measures must be incorporated under social reform, because preventing domestic violence in the first place is the ideal situation.“Ideally, of course, we would like such crimes not to take place, but that’s another sort of area, social reform as opposed to security reform. But I would say the Police have identified that they do need better facilities at Police stations to be able to take statements and do the first responders’ aspect of investigating such complaints.“They are making an effort, and a number of Police stations have already been rehabilitated to provide such facilities, particularly under the IDB-funded Citizen Security Strengthening Programme,” he explained.US reportIn the United States’ State Department’s recently released 2017 Country Report on Guyana, there is recognition that while the law criminalises domestic violence and spousal rape, such abuses remain widespread, and successful prosecution is limited.“The law criminalises rape of men or women, including spousal rape and domestic violence. The law provides stringent penalties for rape, with life imprisonment as the maximum penalty. Successful prosecution of cases of rape and domestic violence was infrequent,” the report detailed.“Domestic violence and violence against women, including spousal abuse, was widespread. The law prohibits domestic violence and allows victims to seek prompt protection, occupation, or tenancy orders from a magistrate. Penalties for violation of protection orders include fines of up to $10,000 and 12 months’ imprisonment.”The report cites allegations of Police accepting bribes from perpetrators, and notes cases of magistrates applying inadequate sentences after conviction.In Guyana itself, the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services (PSCSS) had found, during a 2017 visit to Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), that there are shortfalls in how equipped authorities are to deal with domestic violence cases.The committee was informed that ranks are not specifically trained to deal with domestic violence. However, officers are exposed to such cases during their initial training.In its recommendations, the committee had said, “There should be continuous training for officers in areas of suicide (prevention), domestic violence, and road safety. Police officers should coordinate with the religious community to have a representative on the list of Cop and Faith.”The scourgeLast Thursday, 23-year-old Deomattie “Kalvina” Persaud, a mother of two, was stabbed to death by her reputed husband, 43-year-old fisherman/farmer Bishwanie Maraj, who committed suicide after the incident by ingesting a poisonous substance.On April 17, Cleveland Williams reportedly stabbed his child’s mother, Lashawna Boyce, twice in her back. The incident allegedly occurred when the 46-year-old Williams confronted the woman while she was walking along D’Urban Street.Armed with a knife, he began pushing Boyce about her body, and a scuffle ensued between the two. He allegedly wounded Boyce and left her in a nearby drain as he made good his escape.Public-spirited persons rushed Boyce to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), where she was admitted a patient. Williams was subsequently remanded to prison.Prior to the above incident, Guyana Defence Force Captain Orwain Sandy was remanded for shooting dead his lover, Reona Payne, on March 31, 2018 at Alexander Village, Georgetown.Reports are that Sandy and Payne were in a motorcar proceeding along First Street, Alexander Village when an argument ensued after he reportedly accused her of being unfaithful. He reportedly stopped the car, and as the woman exited, shot her several times with his service revolver.