The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is calling on Police Commis-sioner Seelall Persaud to rein in rogue police officers in the Force and to ensure due diligence to bring to justice the cop who shot 15-year-old Alex Griffith in his mouth.
There is no circumstance that justifies this barbaric act, the GTUC said in a press release, adding that like the burning of 14-year-old Twyon Thomas’s genitals such acts are only possible in a society where the exercise of the lawless is supported by the government. Even if the police had reason to suspect that a crime had been committed, or that the teenagers had information about a crime, these are unacceptable techniques for eliciting information or confessions.
“These acts are violations of Child Rights and must stop! …In one accord, the nation must raise its voice for identical protection of the mighty and weak.”
Further, the new commissioner must take steps to create a Force that strives to uphold its motto to protect and serve. The police and society’s collective interest is best served building relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
The GTUC also chided President Donald Ramotar for not taking a leadership role and establishing the Police Service and Judicial Service commissions. “The administration continues its contempt for the very law it expects the police and citizenry to uphold,” the group asserted. It noted too that the non-functioning of these commissions is a violation of the Constitution, prevents the judicial branch of government from effectively doing its job, and denies addressing matters that would ensure professionalism such as appointment, grievances and discipline.
While some police need improvement, others may need disciplining “but the president has to do more than criticise them as was done at the opening of the recently held Police Officers’ Conference. As Commander-in-Chief, Head of State, Head of Government and parent the president can act to bring about the change the society yearns for and has been calling for.”
He can start by ensuring the immediate appointment of constitutionally mandated commissions, implementing recommendations outlined in the Disciplined Forces Commission Report and the Linden Commission of Inquiry, among other measures, the group said.
The GTUC also lambasted the government for its sloth in establishing a National Youth Policy to ensure that the nation’s youth are gainfully occupied and said it must take responsibility for the hopelessness and fear that grips this vulnerable group.
Brain drain, hopelessness
“Effective policing is not only dependent on the police. Whilst the police play a major part in crime control, prevention is also important. The government has the primary responsibility to create the enabling environment like ensuring a living wage/salary, taking the young off the streets by re-opening National Service or some form of second opportunity because hopelessness and despair would drive some to criminal activities,” the group said.
“Unabated white collar crime and the police being made to feel some are above the law, when the law offers them no such protection undermine the rule of law and send wrong signals to the society.”
According to the group, misdirecting taxpayers’ money and granting tax concessions for mega concerts is not youth development as concerts cannot address unemployment, underemployment and street corner liming among the young. Rather, these are temporary opiates dulling the hopelessness and despair the young still have to confront when the partying is over.
This generation is being denied an opportunity to develop a human capital base to take responsibility, get involved and to shape a better future for themselves and their offspring.
“The nation is risking a group being denied a sound future with the administration’s ‘do nothing policy’ that is not only leading to rampant brain drain but also creation of insensitivity and irresponsibility,” the group said.
Further, the GTUC opined that had these acts of police brutality and helplessness by the young occurred under the PNC administration the blame would have been laid at the feet of its leaders and some political parties would have found fodder in these for political mileage. In addition, any weakness, perceived or otherwise, in the Force would have been criticised by the PPP as the PNC’s Force. However, after 21 years in office it is no longer the PNC’s Force it is the PPP’s Force and as such the president must today take full responsibility for police brutality and the prevalence of injustices suffered by the people.