Would you testify before death squad inquiry? What the people say
By Christopher Yaw
Stabroek News
August 2, 2004

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With the Commission of Inquiry into the death squad allegations against the Minister of Home Affairs recently sworn in, we asked the man/woman in the street if they had evidence about the existence of a death squad whether they would come forward.

Neil McDonald: Self-employed

No, I would not give evidence, because of how the times are going. You have got to be afraid of losing your life.

The only way I would testify is if they had a private undercover organisation. Then maybe I would consider giving testimony. You do not who is who or who are committing these crimes and how so...

Jacquelin Nurse: Concerned Citizen

I would want to say yes, but I would be concerned about my safety. I have to worry about my family though I want to see change in the country. If I testify I do not know if I would live to testify again on another day.

The country is not equipped with witness protection so it would have to be tried and proven before I testify, even if offered protection.

Merviana Mittelholtzer: UG student

No, I would not testify because you cannot trust the police or the people in government. And still the deaths that happened no one is coming forward.

Coming forward was the same reason those people died anyway because they knew what was going on.

I would not come forward even if I was offered protection because how are they going to protect people when everybody knows everybody, how are they really going to protect you?

Jairam Jaundoo: Farmer

In my opinion there is not a death squad therefore I would not testify. The kidnapping and the killing raises the question as to who is responsible and when and how all these things started.

This thing started from the day when the five prisoners escaped, everything started from then. For instance I know a man from my village who paid a ransom of $1M and onto today nobody knows where he is.

To me the death squad inquiry is not valid.

Paul Lovell: Accounts Clerk

I would not testify in these times. Don't you see just the other day with the witness we had ... if I had evidence I would keep it to myself. It does not make sense to testify before the commission even if it is a member of your family who was affected.

If they had a witness protection scheme then it would be a different thing to testify. You have got to look at the situation from both sides, because if it were your family you would like people to come forward and give their information.

Frank Eversley: Self-employed

No, I would not testify because the people that testify are not getting any results. If you look at it, people who have information how are they ending up? So why should I?

Look at all the wildlife extortion, names calling and people are going under cover, remember the issue with Kerzorkee and all of these things.

If you are in a system and something goes wrong you have to deal with it. Also what is happening is as soon as you come forward and say anything you are in the front page and things like that.

Look at Ramjattan who came forward and spoke the truth. Also look at how the commission is designed to operate when you put your statement in the box you do not know who is reading it, it could be dumped.

Leslyn Henderson: Trainee Teacher

Yes, I would give testimony if I had the evidence. I would be afraid but then if something is wrong we should not compromise. If we were to compromise then the situation would not end.

For everything to come to an end you must testify, and we must also remember that there would be consequences that come along with change. Yes there may be some deaths but you have got to hope that the same does not happen to you after giving your testimony.

Vishal Sukhraj: Sales Clerk

No, I would not testify, because I hold the position that I did not see anything and I do not know anything. However, if the people in charge were to offer protection then yes, I would come forward as long as I could be given protection from the system.

Marcia Collette: Banker

I would not give a definite answer but what I would say is, if the evidence I have was positive, I would testify that what they were doing was a good thing.

However if the evidence I had were negative I would testify that such activities are not good for the country.

Kim Jones: Land Administration As-sistant

No, I would not testify if I had evidence because I want to live a comfortable life. I should be able to walk around and go to work in peace.

Added to that I think it is a waste of time; nothing would come out of it.

Even if they were to offer protection I still would not want to testify, because corruption is within the government itself, so who would protect me?