Death squad allegations
Dr Luncheon tells Canada-based Guyanese govt following procedures
Stabroek News
February 7, 2004

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The government's position on the allegations being made against Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj is pretty straightforward as it all deals with procedures, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon told Canada-based Guyanese in Toronto on Thursday evening at a hotel.

A three-member delegation led by Dr Luncheon is visiting Canada and the USA on an outreach programme to update Guyanese about various developmental and national issues here. Dr Luncheon is accompanied by Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Dr Dale Bisnauth and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Gail Teixeira.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Dr Luncheon told his audience "what we have encountered over the last few weeks is pretty tenuous media and political allegations around the issue of the ministerial involvement with the 'death squad'."

He noted that specific complaints have not been brought formally to the attention of the administration. Meanwhile, the government is calling for persons with specific information and facts to come forward and provide these to the police so that the necessary steps can be taken to deal with the allegations.

According to GINA, a number of Guyanese in the gathering urged the government to stop acting on rumours and allegations because they feel some people are trying to destroy the reputation of particular individuals and the government.

Gajraj is at the centre of allegations, which he has denied, that he knew about a death squad that killed numerous criminals. Nearly four weeks ago, George Bacchus admitted in interviews with local media houses and US Embassy officials that he was once a death squad informant for a gang which killed several wanted men in well planned executions. He said he was the intended target when his brother Shafeek was gunned down near his home.

Dr Luncheon acknowledged to the gathering that indeed people have been killed and the Police Force has been unable to venture some explanation for these deaths.

However, he further said, after investigations were conducted, it was concluded that some of the deaths were gang related. Luncheon added that there is no doubt that there are gang related crimes in Guyana but such activities are present in other countries in the region.

He emphasised, GINA stated, that crime related issues are a major concern in the region. It was noted too that criminal activities affect the economic development of Guyana, but this was a common problem in the region and the world at large.

Luncheon also discussed the way in which some members of the Police Force are being criticised for the manner in which they perform their duties. He told the gathering that the government has been pushing for reform, noting that a new Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix, will be sworn-in within a few days and deputy commissioners will also be appointed because of the administration's commitment to reform. He noted also that top-level police officers have been sent for training in London where they examined forces in operation in democratic societies and how to deal with criminals.