Three years after he was tortured while in police custody, government has paid the $6.5 million awarded by the High Court to the teen whose genitals were set alight at the Leonora Police Station during a murder investigation.
“A couple of months ago, we finally got payment,” the teen’s attorney Khemraj Ramjattan told Stabroek News yesterday adding that this was sometime in December. He said that government also withdrew the appeal filed in the matter.
Ramjattan said that he was pushing for the appeal to be heard as soon as possible and the record was about to be filed when he was contacted, asked if he still represented the teen and was then asked to go to the Attorney General’s chambers. There he was informed that government would pay the sum awarded and the appeal would be withdrawn, he said.
Ramjattan on behalf of the teen had filed a $40 million lawsuit against the then Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and the two ranks accused of torturing the boy, seeking $40M in compensation. In June 2011, Justice Roxane George, after describing the case as constituting torture, awarded the teenager $6.5M in damages, while explaining that there had been a violation of his fundamental human rights. The government subsequently appealed the ruling.
The boy had been held for questioning in connection with the murder of retired Region Three vice-chairman Ramenaught Bisram, who was found dead at his home on October 26, 2009 with several stab wounds. While being interrogated by police officers at the Leonora Police Station, the boy, then 15, was allegedly doused with methylated spirits and set alight.
Two policemen, Mohanram Dolai and Narine Lall, were later charged for causing grievous bodily harm to the teen but the charges were later dismissed in the Magistrate’s Court after the teen and others failed to show up at the trial to give evidence. The duo was also charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Nouravie Wilfred. The duo along with Corporal Oswald Foo were also charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Deonarine Rafick, with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or cause him grievous bodily harm. Wilfred and Rafick were arrested along with the teen in connection with the murder of Bisram.
Guyana recently appeared before the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland where the country’s periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child were presented.
Among the issues raised were the torture case and government in its response said that a full investigation into how security officers were allowed to “blatantly flout national and international legislation was launched and two officers attached to Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police force were arrested on the use of excessive force.” In its response, the government said that the case was later dismissed for want of prosecution as the victim and his family failed to show up for sessions to give evidence on 17 consecutive occasions.
“On 17 June 2011, as a result of a civic action filed in February 2010, GYD6.5 M was awarded to the tortured teenager by the High Court which stated that, pursuant to Articles 139 and 141 of the Guyana Constitution, his fundamental constitutional rights were violated by the police officers as well as other members of the Guyana Police Force. In addition to the judgment for GYD6.5 million, the teenager was also awarded court costs in the sum of GYD175,000 and has since received compensation as awarded by the court,” the government said in its response.