Justice Institute condemns alleged baton attack

– Rohee says await all facts

Even as the Justice Institute Guyana yesterday condemned the alleged baton rape committed on Colwyn Harding and the PNCR made a monetary donation, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee urged all to await the facts before rushing to judgment.

Rohee, in response to questions from the media on the issue at the weekly PPP press conference said everyone should await all the facts that would be based on reports that would come out officially. “I am all for the reports to be made public so that people could draw their own conclusion,” he said.

Rohee told the media that the DPP’s view on the matter will be critical.

The PNCR said in a statement that a monetary donation was made to Harding’s the mother. The money, the release said, was presented by APNU Member of Parliament and PNCR General Council Member Annette Ferguson.

Leader of the PNCR, David Granger, according to the release, said the donation was a first step, and was intended to assist the family with transportation and other basic needs. Granger said the PNCR will continue to pay close attention to the welfare, well-being and safety of Harding and will continue to offer support to him and his family.

The Justice Institute Guyana says that it condemned “unreservedly” the brutal attack allegedly made on Harding and called the health minister’s statement on the matter “improper”. A press release issued yesterday said the Justice Institute was deeply concerned at the failure of the state to show adequate concern for Harding’s well-being and his dignity as a human being. “We deplore

the fact that Mr Harding was shackled to his hospital bed and had to suffer the indignity of waiting for colostomy bags rather than having the bags immediately to hand,” the release said adding that Justice Institute calls for an immediate and independent investigation into the treatment received by Harding at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

“In view of the alleged cause and severity of his injuries, the state must do the decent thing and pay for Mr Harding to receive further treatment at a hospital of his choice by doctors of his choice, until the truth can be established,” the release said.

It added that Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran had attempted to attribute Harding’s injuries to a hernia. “The minister’s interference is improper, has undermined public confidence in the statements subsequently made by the doctors of the Georgetown Public Hospital and has regrettably provided a basis for public suspicion of a cover up,” the institute said.

It went on to say that the statements reportedly made by the Commissioner of Police and his attendant officers were unhelpful and provide a basis for further public suspicion that there is “insufficient commitment on the part of the Guyana Police Force to establish the truth” noting that the Commissioner has to ensure that the truth is established.

It was noted too that it is imperative that the Minister of Home Affairs acts immediately to reassure the public that the state will not seek to avoid responsibility for any wrong doing. “The Justice Institute therefore requests Minister Rohee to make an immediate public statement condemning any acts of violence by the police and confirming that there will be an independent investigation to establish the truth of Mr Harding’s experience,” the release said. The Justice Institute also requested that Rohee make a statement setting out the steps he will take to appoint and lead a committee of senior officers and civilians, identified to the public, and task them with the responsibility to receive, record and investigate thoroughly and transparently any future complaints of violence made against police officers.

“It is time to remove the perception that rogue police officers are immune from prosecution and that acts of violence by police officers are invariably covered up by other police officers. The public needs protection, and Minister Rohee must take the lead,” the release said.

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