Police force probe to address charges of extra-judicial killings, other issues

Stabroek News
May 15, 2003

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Allegations of extra-judicial killings and the involvement of some sections of the force in illicit activities are some of the issues the inquiry into the operations of the Police Force will be asked to examine.

It will also be asked to address the claims of political interference in the administration and management of the force as well as the pay and conditions of the members of the Force.

These areas are contained in the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Commission that is to be appointed to conduct the inquiry into the operations of the Guyana Police Force. The motion seeking approval of the terms of reference is to be discussed when the National Assembly meets tomorrow.

The amendment to the Constitution to allow the commission to be appointed is to have its Second and Third Readings at today's sitting of the National Assembly. The commission of inquiry and the amendment to the Constitution to provide it with the power and authority to do its work were agreed during a meeting between President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNCR leader Robert Corbin.

The Guyana Human Rights Association, however, is critical of the focus of the TOR. In a release issued earlier this week it said that the TOR "should be clear and explicit about the kind of policing we wish to have in a peaceful multi-cultural Guyana."

"They should also be comprehensive, not a compromise between partisan political agenda of the two major parties. The Commission should be given a mandate to develop a comprehensive programme of reform which could be promoted as a single package rather than one to be mixed and matched by the various interest groups."

The release said too that the TOR should be couched in language which communicates a clear message that the purpose of the commission is to make recommendations which would facilitate a process of fundamental transition from a police force to a police service in partnership with the community."

The commission of inquiry will consist of five persons appointed by the President after consultation with Corbin and is required to begin its work by June 6, according to the Jagdeo/Corbin communiqué, and to complete it within three months.

The commission will have all of the powers and authority of a Commission of Inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act, Cap. 19:03 and shall as far as practicable adopt the procedures set out therein.

According to the communiqué, the commission will be required to present its findings and recommendations to the National Assembly and be the subject of an affirmative resolution. The findings and recommendations of the Commission that are accepted by the National Assembly shall be implemented within a specified time frame and monitored by the social services sector committee.

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