No political directive to Police
-- President assures
Guyana Chronicle
May 18, 2002

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`It has nothing to do with race or politics; it has to do with criminality' - President Bharrat Jagdeo

THE Guyana Police Force enforces discipline, and in doing do, it is not directed by the Government or a political party, President Bharrat Jagdeo has stressed.

The reiteration came in the wake of accusations against the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) about its alleged influence on the Police Force to suit the needs of the Government, which may not necessarily coincide with the interest of all Guyanese.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the President made the point during an interview Sunday with Mr. Adam Harris, Editor-in-Chief of the `Prime News' TV programme, at State House, Georgetown.

According to the agency, the accusations have recently been made by some sections of society, including the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R).

The critics have implied that on the instructions of the Government, the Police Force attack and arrest Afro-Guyanese, especially young males, and either brutalise or kill them, GINA noted.

"It has nothing to do with race or politics; it has to do with criminality," Mr. Jagdeo said.

The President noted that the Special Target Squad or Anti-Crime Squad, commonly called the 'Black Clothes Police', was formed when the PNC/R was in government, and the members who are in the squad were not appointed by the PPP/C administration, but by the PNC/R.

He pointed to the Guyana Human Rights Association report which revealed that between 1980 and 1992, more people were killed than under the current administration's reign, saying, "and most of them killed prior to 1992 were young male Afro-Guyanese".

"Are they saying that there was a conspiracy when the PNC/R was in office in those years to kill young male Afro-Guyanese? They have not answered this question. Remember that it was Desmond Hoyte (PNC/R leader) who brought back hanging because there were a series of crimes and people were fearful.

"I do not disagree with the hanging, but there is no conspiracy. The Police go after criminals; there is no political directive," President Jagdeo declared.

He said, too, that the Government has been criticised for the escape of the five criminals from the Georgetown Prisons on February 23 and their still being at large in the sense that the issue has been politicised.

However, he pointed out that the grievances aired by one of the escapees, Andrew Douglas, on a tape shown by two television stations, indicated that he was imprisoned for too long and implied that there was a conspiracy between the Government and the judiciary against Afro-Guyanese within the prison system to keep them there.

"The airing of a tape of a man dressed in camouflage clothes speaks about fighting for the black brothers in the prison. And what bothers me is that a lot of these things are taking a racial tinge deliberately by a few people. It has nothing to do with race and politics," he asserted.

"He (Douglas) escaped, killed a prison officer, and then said he is fighting on behalf of his black brothers. Anyone who is thinking would know that we do not have only Afro-Guyanese in prison.

"So is it that Indo-Guyanese get their cases heard and Afro-Guyanese do not? Or is it a systemic problem that affects everyone?"

He said it is a systemic problem with the pace at which the judiciary operates.

"If they say that Government directs the judiciary, because that is what he is implying, not to hear cases of Afro-Guyanese, then they should ask the Chancellor of the Judiciary," Mr. Jagdeo urged.

According to the President, he has repeatedly criticised the slow pace of the judiciary.

"Some judges have about fifty decisions they have not written up; that's wrong. We are hoping to change that, but there is no conspiracy here," he assured.