New typist chairs for Police Complaints Authority
Budget has no provisions to increase capacity
Stabroek News
April 10, 2003

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In the face of rising complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, there is no provision in the 2003 Budget to increase the capacity of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to investigate these complaints.

There is however a $300,000 provision for the purchase of air conditioning units, filing cabinets and typist chairs among other pieces of office equipment.

The Police Complaints Authority is required to investigate certain cases of serious crime that members of the Guyana Police Force are alleged to have committed.

The Authority consists of a chairman, who is or has been a Puisne judge and the relevant act provides for the chairman to be assisted by a panel of two persons who have adequate qualifications or experience with matters relevant to the functions conferred on the Authority. For some time now the members of the panel have not been appointed under previous chairmen. However, this would require the Act to be amended. The Act provides in cases of unlawful death caused by the police or other serious crimes, for the complaint to be investigated by the police. In addition the PCA may request the Commissioner of Police to replace the officer conducting the investigation.

Retired Justice Cecil Kennard, the chairman of the Authority, has since his appointment been calling for a special investigative unit to investigate complaints made to the Authority instead of depending on the police's Office of Professional Responsibility. No provision has been made for this in the estimates.

Stabroek News understands that there are plans to appoint the panel to assist the chairman but their appointment has to await the availability of space at the Authority.

According to the U S State Department's Human Rights Report 2002 states, "The PCA received 98 complaints through September (compared with 44 in all of 2001)" and "it completed investigations of 43 cases and sent them to the Police Commissioner for action".

However, the report says. "There was no information publicly available on the status of the investigations." It says too that even when police officers faced charges, most of the cases were heard by lower magistrate courts, where other specially trained police officers served as the prosecutors.

The US report says too that human rights monitors questioned the officers' commitment to prosecute their own colleagues.

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