The Catholic Church has condemned extra-judicial killings
Stabroek News
September 1, 2001

Dear Editor

Mr. Mike Singh, in his letter (22/08/01) captioned "Police executions can have international consequences" admonishes the Catholic Church saying that the Church is "yet to condemn the latest round of gross human rights abuse." Is Mr. Singh saying that the Church is slow in responding to this issue or is he implying that it is being selective in its condemnation?

Either way, he is wrong.

On July 10, 2001, Bishop Benedict Singh issued a letter entitled "Violence in our society" in which he began by highlighting the fact that the Church has been consistent and definitely not selective in its denunciation of all forms of violence.

The Bishop notes that "while we will continue to speak out against the unspeakable crimes involving the violation of human dignity, let no one assume that we are easy prey to their narrow agendas, and that the Church will be put on the defensive by accusations that on this question we have been selective." The Church speaks out against all forms of violence that violate that dignity, whether it is legalized infant killing called abortion, legalized executions called capital punishment, crime, murder or extra-judicial killings. Not only does the Church speak up but it has at times been practically alone in its advocacy on issues such as abortion, capital punishment and most recently on discrimination because of sexual orientation. Where the Church is concerned, discrimination or violence, whether physical or psychological, against the dignity of the human person is explicitly unacceptable regardless of who that person may be.

The order of the day, however, seems to be to select your cause to speak on and either remain silent on or condone the others. While any voice against such atrocities must be recognized and supported, one cannot speak out on summary executions and remain silent on other types of executions, such as abortions and capital punishment, or condone police action or inaction when one race is affected and condemn them when another is affected. Regardless of where and by whom the violation is caused, in my clan or yours, it remains a violation and that is consistency.

"Furthermore," the Bishop continues in his July letter, "the Church condemns, as it always has, extra-judicial killings. It is the duty of the State to ensure that the legal right to force is not abused and that existing statutes, which provide for inquests into deaths, are scrupulously observed. And he appeals to civil society to ensure it plays a role in "ensuring peace and orderliness ... and the sooner we begin, the quicker we will reap the rewards."

We agree with Mr. Singh "Respect for global human rights is non-negotiable" and offers him support and encouragement and call on others to do the same. However, we say to him and to others that we cannot use human rights to further our own private agendas.

Yours faithfully

Rock Beharry

Philip Naraine