Police killings per year have increased under this government
Stabroek News
February 26, 2002

Dear Editor,

Many of us are aware that few people of other ethnic groups pay any attention to African Guyanese complaints of institutionalised discrimination against, and slaughter of, our people by agents of the PPP.

We have, therefore, chosen to stop speaking about these affairs. Our duty is clear. However, we cannot allow the latest affront to our people's intelligence to pass. I refer to the recent Guyana Human Rights Association ((GHRA) publication: "Ambivalent About Violence: A Report on Fatal Shootings by Police in Guyana."

The report covers the past 22 years, January 1980 to December 2001. GHRA concluded in its Summary of Conclusions, page 7, that the figures on Police killings do "not justify sufficiently" the charge that African Guyanese are marked for elimination. Other commentators have repeated this erroneous statement.

The report compares total police killings during 13 years of the PNC administration with the nine years under the PPP. After comparing two unequal periods, the authors then announce that 239 people were killed by police in the 22 year period: 126 or 53 percent under the PNC compared with 113 or 47 percent under the PPP.

In order to compare totals when observing a trend, an impartial analyst may find it more useful to compare the last nine years of the PNC with the nine years of the PPP. Using GHRA's own figures there were 75 police killings in the last nine years of the PNC administration, 1984 1992, as against 113 killings during the PPP rule, 1993 2001, a 50 percent increase.

(I have assigned a number of 7 deaths for 1987, given as unknown by the GHRA. That number was arrived by taking an average of the known killings in the two years preceding and the two years following 1987).

The GHRA report also reveals that 14 East Indians were among the 75 persons killed by police during the nine PNC years, 1984 1992. (Given the general trend, I added one to the number for 1987 for a total of 150. This compares with eight East Indians killed under the nine years of the PPP, a 50 percent drop.

In comparison, 46 African Guyanese were killed during the nine PNC years as against 99 during the nine PPP years, more than double.

GHRA also draws a comparison between the first five years of its report under the PNC as against the last five under the PPP, saying in the very first paragraph of its conclusions that it found "the numbers killed for 1980 1985 and 1995 2001 to be equally high at 15 persons per annum."

Why, one wonders, is GHRA putting itself through such statistical contortions? The correct approach must be to compare the first five years under the PNC with the first five under the PPP; or else the last five years of the one against the last five of the other. Then a different picture emerges. The figures reveal that police killings for the first five years of the report, under the PNC, were 48 as against 64 for the first five years under the PPP, a 33 percent increase. Worse yet, there were 30 police killings during the last five years of the PNC as against 76 during the last five years under the PPP, a 150 percent increase.

I invite each person to draw his or her own conclusions.

Yours faithfully,

Ronald Waddell