Two Amerindians beaten by police -Fr Rodrigues

Stabroek News
December 29, 2002

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Appeals are being made to Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues and Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj to investigate and discipline two ranks who brutally beat two interior residents last week.

Residents of the Region Nine (Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo) villages of Karasabi and Tiger Pond are upset about the conduct of two policemen stationed at two interior stations following an incident on December 20.

An official complaint of assault perpetrated by the two police officers, along with medical certificates from the two injured residents have been forwarded to the officer in charge at the Lethem Police Station.

Relating the circumstances leading to the incident, Father Malcolm Rodrigues, who recently returned from the area told this newspaper that the two men had been severely beaten by two named policemen for no apparent reason during a festival of sports in the region.

According to Rodrigues, both men had to be treated for injuries as a result of the beatings and their condition continued to be a cause for concern.

Police Public Relations Officer, David Ramnarine, when alerted about the matter, said that it appeared to be one of a very serious nature which should not go unnoticed by the senior authorities.

Ramnarine alluded to the fact that since it was more difficult to expedite investigations into incidents in interior locations, some ranks were persuaded that undesirable conduct could go unnoticed.

According to Ramnarine, it was the belief of some members of the force that by the time the investigation had been completed, it would have lost its effect.

The police PRO advised the complainants to try to meet urgently with the officer in charge of the office of professional responsibility at force headquarters, Eve Leary. The two police ranks, Rodrigues said, on the day of the incident had stopped a tractor carrying several persons on their way to participate in the festival of sports, and had dragged Conrad Joseph from the vehicle.

"They immediately began beating him [Joseph] about the body in full view of other villagers," Rodrigues related. During the beating one of the ranks was said to have taken out his service revolver and given it to another rank who continued the assault.

The rank was then said to have picked up a beer bottle and lashed the victim in the region of his right temple. This resulted in him being bloodied, and he had to be treated at the Lethem hospital.

It was while Joseph was being assaulted that another resident, James Pablo from Tiger Pond, who spoke out about the treatment, was himself beaten and stamped upon.

Rodrigues claimed that the young man, up to the time he left the region, was still feeling the effects of the assault.

Residents, he further claimed, had accused the ranks of being under the influence of alcohol and also of being in possession of a gun although not in uniform.

According to Rodrigues he was making representation on the community's behalf as a member of the hinterland welfare group which assists indigenous residents.

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