PNC/R repeats calls for review of Police Force activities
Guyana Chronicle
April 26, 2002

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THE main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) is reiterating demands for an immediate review of the activities of the Police Force and its Special Target Squad and yesterday said it welcomed the Amnesty International (AI) statement rapping the Government for its response to criticisms of the squad's activities.

At a news conference at PNC/R Congress Place headquarters, the party's Chief Whip, Mr. Lance Carberry said AI's sentiments are in full accord with those of the PNC/R and other concerned segments of Guyanese society.

"Amnesty International has confirmed what the PNC/R has been saying all along", he suggested.

Carberry claimed the PNC/R has been branded anti-Police, pro-criminal and terroristic by the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government because it has consistently pointed out the questionable and confrontational approach of the Police Squad, and called for a Commission of Inquiry into the operations and functioning of the Police Force.

But Mr. Robert Persaud, Information Liaison to President Bharrat Jagdeo, said the PNC/R had distorted both the contents of the Amnesty International statement and the Government's public response.

"Amnesty International would be most aghast at such dishonesty", he said in a statement reacting to the PNC/R claims.

"These most recent acts of factual misrepresentation and textual inexactitude confirm the popular assumption that the PNC/R is uncomfortable with truth and has a perennial difficulty in distinguishing fact from fiction", he said.

Persaud argued that also of concern to most Guyanese is the fact that the PNC/R leadership at its most recent media encounter, "failed to exonerate itself from its anti-Police campaign."

"It has failed to indicate to the Guyanese people that it is seriously committed to the fight against crime and maintenance of law and order in our society", he charged.

He suggested that the PNC/R must end its ambivalence and join the overwhelming majority of Guyanese who are interested in peace, the maintenance of law and order, and an unrelenting fight against crime.

"This nation must neither be terrorised nor continue to be held hostage to the PNC/R's internal leadership squabble", he added.

Amnesty International last week urged the Guyana Government not to resort to "inflammatory language that may undermine the right of freedom of expression and lead to further human rights violations".

In a statement, the London-based human rights group said, "many states describe as `terrorist' political motivations that they oppose."

Amnesty International also reiterated its call for an immediate review of the activities of the Special Police Anti Crime Unit (the `Black Clothes' squad).

Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon last week charged that the anti-Police policy "being proposed, publicised and promoted" by the PNC/R was "terroristic".

The Government, in a statement this week, said AI's reaction was "hasty and ill-advised".

It said the organisation had ignored the arguments made by the administration that the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions, a constitutional office, "had implemented the process of investigation into all allegations of Police brutality."

Responding to Luncheon's reaction Wednesday to calls for a Commission of Inquiry to address alleged extra-judicial killings by the Police, Carberry yesterday said his assertion that no commission will be set up to look into the matter was clearly unacceptable.

He said the reasons proffered by Luncheon for not acceding to this "eminently reasonable demand" are untenable.

He said the PNC/R would continue to speak out against and adopt appropriate measures to curb extra-judicial killings and other forms of excessive abuse and bad governance, corruption and discrimination against some citizens.

On the issue of the appointment of Mr. Winston Felix to succeed Mr. Floyd McDonald as Police Commissioner when he proceeds on retirement next year, Carberry said his party is satisfied that Felix is well equipped to fill the position with credit and distinction.

President Jagdeo last week named Felix to succeed McDonald.

Carberry, however, expressed concerns about Felix having to wait until some unspecified time next year to substantively assume the position of Police Commissioner.

He noted that Felix is a well-trained and long serving and experienced Police Officer and pointed out that he last year underwent intensive training in the United Kingdom, with emphasis on leadership, excellence and integrity.

His appointment, Carberry said, will greatly assist the programme of criminal justice reform, to which the UK and Guyana governments are committed.

He, however, raised questions about what other training programmes the Commissioner Designate would have to go through before he could be substantively appointed Police Commissioner.

"The Government must let the public know what specific additional training is planned and duration as well as definite timeframe for the completion of the transitional arrangements for the full assumption of the office of the Commissioner by Mr. Felix", he said.