Women lawyers condemn police brutality

Stabroek News
April 18, 1999

The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers has issued a statement reiterating its condemnation of police brutality.

In a press release the Association says that notwithstanding remarks made by President Janet Jagan, it will stand by its position and joins in the condemnation of the recent upsurge of unwarranted police brutality against women. The Association sees these recent actions as a blatant disregard of the mission of the Police Force, which should be to protect and serve the citizens of Guyana. More importantly, however, this form of brutality is an infringement of the supreme Law of Guyana.

The statement noted Article 141 of the Fundamental Rights provision of the Constitution which expressly states "that no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment."

Hitting, kicking or any form of violence by members of the Police Force against the citizens of Guyana female or male, is a violation of the constitution and an infringement of basic human rights of citizens. Further, citizens have the legal right to bring criminal and civil action against such violent elements of the Police Force, to obtain redress for such wrongdoing, the release stated.

"Women have made many strides in the past decade towards equality and are in most cases are the heads of their households and sole breadwinners of their families in the context of our social realities", the statement said. It noted that many pieces of legislation which have been passed have assisted women in playing a meaningful role in the nation's development, such as the Equal Rights Act, the Married Persons Property Act, the Family Dependants Act and the Domestic Violence Act.

These legal gains, the release continued, were continuously eroded by the reality of the brutalization of women by men in both the private and public arenas. The Association feels that violence and brutality against women have no regard for class or status as seen by the loss of its past President, Ms Pearlene Roach, and the police brutality meted out to attorney-at-law, Hazel Octive Hamilton, outside the Victoria Law Courts during street protests in 1998.

This trend continues unabated, the release said, while noting that reports following a recent incident suggested that helpless women, some pregnant, received violent blows following the unlawful entry of policemen into their home.