Police killings hamper discovery of criminal masterminds
-seminar hears

Stabroek News
June 24, 2003

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Extra-judicial killings continue under the guise of crime solving but actually limit law enforcement’s success in uncovering the possible masterminds of criminal activity.

This was the prevailing opinion at a recent symposium at City Hall, hosted by the Justice for Jermaine Committee (JJC). The committee remains steadfast in its call for an end to these killings, seven years after the shooting to death of 20-year-old Jermaine Wilkinson allegedly by a policeman.

Participants at the symposium, who were told that there had been over 300 cases of extra-judicial killings since 1992, held the overwhelming view that not enough was being done to address this problem.

As a result, the JJC has pledged its commitment to mobilise the support of both political parties and civil society against the “atrocities committed by the [law] enforcement arm of the state.”

Moreover, the JJC will encourage sympathetic groups to implement appropriate measures to uncover and properly prosecute those who plan and provide the funding for such illegal enterprises.

Addressing a thin audience, the JJC Executive Chairman, Heston Boswick noted that the public outcry for justice had done little as the number of extra-judicial killings continued to rise. He said there were more than 300 over the last ten years, as compared to 88 between 1980 and 1985 and 41 between 1985 and 1992.

He said in the midst of current security fears, it was now the belief of the nation-at-large that it was acceptable to kill someone who was engaged in criminal activities.

Boswick declared that “crimes cannot be solved in graves.”

He added that more should also be done to address the root cause of crime: poverty.

“Poverty breeds crime [and] poverty breeds criminals.”

He said the way forward lay in job creation, primarily in depressed communities, from where the hopeless were being lured to commit crimes.

Participants at the forum, while expressing concern over the continuation of the crime situation, bemoaned some of its effects and causes, including narco-trafficking. It was said that it was well known that Guyana was fast becoming a major transshipment point for narco-trafficking between Latin-America and the Caribbean.

“Everyone knows that where there is a thriving drug trade, bodies turn up,” one participant said.

Concern was also expressed over the perception of the independence of the judiciary as well as the stereotyping of Afro-Guya-nese in the media, where another said they were portrayed as criminals.

“Crime has no colour... all criminals regardless of who they are, are entitled to justice,” one participant said, after she advanced that although in the media the faces of criminals are “black,” the faces behind them are not.

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