Jagdeo evasive on extra-judicial killings - Hoyte
Trotman says civil society must play part
Stabroek News
January 11, 2002

The PNC REFORM (PNC/R) yesterday stepped up pressure on the government over the issue of extra-judicial killings with party leader Desmond Hoyte declaring that President Bharrat Jagdeo was "evasive" on the issue when it was broached in their dialogue.

At a press conference hosted by the PNC/R at it headquarters yesterday, Raphael Trotman, a central executive committee member, noted that over the past nine years over 140 citizens, aged between 16 and 25, died by police gunfire.

Hoyte, who shared the briefing with Trotman and other central committee members Oscar Clarke, Faith Harding, and Deryck Bernard, informed reporters that the issue was raised during his dialogue series with President Jagdeo but the head of state was "very evasive on the matter."

Hoyte said President Jagdeo had indicated there would be a review of the operations within the police force but nothing much was done. The President has shown no great intent to tackle the issue, he stated.

Trotman said his party had hoped that with the appointment of a new Police Commissioner there would have been a pause in the unlawful killings but this was not to be.

He recalled the police shooting of 12-year-old schoolboy Vincent Griffith Jnr on December 12, 2001, during a search for a bandit. The boy was shot in the leg and it was subsequently amputated.

One week earlier, Jermaine Thomas, was shot in the leg five times by a police rank.

And on December 2, Brian King was shot in the mouth by another and died a few weeks later.

Nothing has happened since the shootings, Trotman said.

He observed that the police came out with "the old tired story that the man [King] attacked the policeman with a cutlass which he had in his waist.

"In almost every case of extra-judicial killing, the police claimed that they would be mounting an investigation. Either nothing further is heard or the matter is alleged to have been referred to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions [and] that is the end of the matter," he said.

According to Trotman, no-one takes the promises of the government seriously that there would be an enquiry into the cases of police brutality and extra-judicial killings.

He pointed out that a coroner's jury recently found a policeman criminally involved in the death of a citizen named Mohamed Shafeek but the rank was still at large and no attempt had been made to prosecute him.

Another case of inaction was the non-commission of an enquiry into the shooting deaths of seven persons at the hands of the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad in August last year despite such a promise made by President Jagdeo.

Trotman noted that the PNC/R had tabled a motion in parliament to debate the question of police brutality and general operations of the police force. The motion was never placed on the Order Paper but the PNC/R intends to resubmit it to the current session of parliament.

Trotman said it was only by the combined weight of public opinion and relentless pressure by the various sections of civil society that a better quality of service by the police force would be ensured.