The PNCR condemns the most recent reported acts of torture by ranks of the Guyana Police Force on a fourteen-year-old while in their custody a few days ago. The shocking photographs published in the Kaieteur news today, Saturday October 31, 2009, provide evidence of the reprehensible conduct of the ranks, allegedly from the Leonora police station, and require an immediate response from the Commissioner of Police, Henry Green. No justification can be offered for such brutal acts. The fact that the ranks could feel comfortable inflicting such grievous bodily harm on a human being including, the setting alight of the youth’s genital area after soaking it with mentholated spirits, only confirms that the culture of the force permits such behaviour. The state of mind of the guilty ranks of the force also needs investigation and the incident suggests the need for serious psychological evaluation of members of the GPF.

Only two days ago in its Press statement, the PNCR stated that PPP/C officials appear to be suffering from paranoia whenever the issue of torture in Guyana is mentioned. Regrettably, the Administration, which is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, seems comfortable with the state of affairs in Guyana. The refusal of the Jagdeo Administration to take condign action whenever such cases are reported has conveyed the impression to the security forces that such behaviour is acceptable. Article 2, Paragraph 2 of UN Convention clearly states that,

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The Convention therefore places a direct obligation on the Government to respond positively to ensure that the provisions are not breached. The record of the PPP in this area is however dismal.

Guyanese have not forgotten the brutal torture of Edwin Niles while in the custody of the Guyana Prison Service and the reluctance of either the security forces or the Government to take any action until there was a public outcry. To date, there has been no explanation or known investigation on the torture of Patrick Sumner, Victor Jones, David Zammit and many others by the security forces

In January 2008 army personnel, Michael Dunn, Alvin Wilson and Sharth Robertson, made public their allegations that they were tortured by senior officers within the Guyana Defence Force. Amidst the public outcry, the Government finally announced the appointment of a Board of Inquiry within the GDF. The Party’s stated position on February 7, 2008, was that,

“The only credible way for the investigations, into the allegations of torture, to be done is by an independent commission, consisting of upstanding citizens of this Republic whose integrity are beyond question.”

The Government, however, covered up this matter by refusing to publish the report of the so-called inquiry and Mr. Robert Persaud, Minister of Agriculture, choose to disrespect the National Assembly by defending the GDF torture as “roughing up”. The attitude of the PPP/C Administration in condoning torture was further highlighted by their prolonged refusal to debate a motion on torture brought to the National Assembly by the PNCR. When the motion was finally debated, it was evident that the PPP had no remorse or any respect for the people of Guyana.

These examples support the contention that the PPP/C Administration has been condoning torture in Guyana in breach of their obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture and in violation of the Constitution of Guyana, which guarantees every citizen the right to protection from cruel and inhumane treatment.

No self-respecting people can allow this state of affairs to continue in Guyana. It is time for the Commissioner of Police to account to the people of Guyana. It is also time for the people to consider the necessary action to be taken to ensure that there is discipline within the ranks of the security forces so that there will be no further reports of torture. The PNCR will be persistent in its quest to end these unconstitutional activities. We call on Commissioner Green to account immediately!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Saturday October 31, 2009