Calls renewed for probe into police brutality allegations
Charges against 'Black Clothes'not always fair - Nadir

Stabroek News
May 22, 2001

Allegations of the use of excessive force and of acting outside the law against the Target Special Squad are not always fair and at times, according to The United Force leader, Manzoor Nadir, seem to be an attempt to have it dismantled.

However, he felt that it would be useful to have allegations of police brutality investigated, since he did not believe that when they have resorted to the use of deadly force they were not themselves in danger.

Other political activists share Nadir's view that the allegations of police brutality and extrajudicial killings must be investigated, but they do not go as far as Nadir in seeing them as an attempt by criminal elements to have the unit dismantled.

The PNC REFORM has called for an enquiry into police brutality, and particularly extrajudicial killings, claiming that in the last eight years or so about 100 persons had been "executed" by the Target Special Squad.

Speaking with Stabroek News yesterday, Nadir said that the Target Special Squad better known as the 'Black Clothes police', could be considered a crack SWAT team. He said that every police force needed a team such as the 'Black Clothes police' which could go into dangerous situations and do a really good job of police work.

About the allegations of the use of excessive force and extrajudicial killings, Nadir conceded that in every force, there were elements that overstepped the bounds of good policing practice. But he said that he did not subscribe to the popular view that the 'Black Clothes police' always used excessive force as he thought that at times they were in life-threatening situations.

Because of this, he said, he would like to see proper investigations into the charges of the use of excessive force and of extrajudicial killings.

Nadir said that he agreed that the police should follow the traditional principles of arrest, detention and prosecution and that was why he would like to see proper investigations of those incidents in which it is alleged that the 'Black Clothes police' behaved as if they were judge, jury and executioner.

GAP/WPA parliamentarian, Sheila Holder, also believes that claims of excessive force and extrajudicial killings should be investigated.

She told Stabroek News that there should be approved police standards on the use of force relevant to the society and that the use of such force should be at the discretion of the police.

Holder stressed that any investigation into police brutality and extrajudicial killings should be conducted by an impartial body consisting of persons familiar with police operations in the circumstances under which the police operated in Guyana.

However, she added that the probe should go beyond the incidents being investigated and should look at the capacity of the police to deal with them and to make recommendations as necessary to enhance its capacity to do so.

PNC/R executive member and parliamentarian, Raphael Trotman, expressed concern at the behaviour of the 'Black Clothes police' in dealing with criminal elements.

He told Stabroek News that their manner of behaviour suggested to the criminals that surrender was not an option and referred to the last two shootings at the Aishalton Guest House and in an Albouystown yard in which two wanted men died.

The PNC/R parliamentarian said that the behaviour of this element of the police had led to wanted persons believing that the best way of preventing their execution was in mounting a pre-emptive strike. Trotman said that his party had called for an enquiry into police brutality and would keep pressing until this was done, as these elements of the force seemed to hold human life cheap.

The behaviour of the Target Special Squad seemed to suggest that squad had abandoned the principles of apprehension, detention and prosecution and adopted the position that rather than bring wanted men to justice they should kill them, he said.

Trotman agreed with Nadir that all police forces needed to have an elite squad to deal with the more dangerous criminals, but he stressed that there were ways of managing them. This, he said, was done in a way which would mitigate against them becoming a law onto themselves as the 'Black Clothes police' seemed to have done.

He said most forces rotated the members of these squads so as to ensure they had a "cooling-off" period, observing that the behaviour of these special units also reflected favourably or adversely on the police top brass.