The police are unclear about government’s position on torture

Dear Editor,

Tell me I was wrong to say that the actions, words and deeds of the current PPP/C administration are sufficient to suggest that the Government of Guyana turns a blind eye to torture. The latest reports of Junior Thornton’s allegations of torture have again confirmed my position. If in the midst of damning reports of “baton sodomy” and a teen shot in the mouth by members of the police force, allegations of police burning the hands of a prisoner emerge, it can be concluded that ranks of the Guyana Police Force are unclear on the government’s position on torture.

A few weeks ago I called for President Ramotar to make an unequivocal declaration saying that his government denounces torture, and does not condone it. He is yet to make that statement even though the cruel and inhumane acts continue under his watch. While not excusing the police officer/s alleged to be responsible for Thornton’s injuries, I wish to lay the blame for the spate of torture squarely at the feet of the PPP/C government. The fact that the government continues to dodge the ball on this issue demonstrates an attitude on its part regarding complaints of torture. Just a few weeks ago the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, stood up in the National Assembly and told the world that complaints of torture in Guyana amount to nothing but “frivolous and vexatious” issues. His cabinet counterpart and Advisor to the President Gail Teixiera argued that there are not enough complaints of torture in Guyana to warrant any commission to investigate them. If this is the government’s response to torture, then what then do you expect of the police?

The badly burnt hands of Junior Thornton must be a symbol that reminds all of us that such barbaric acts have no place in civilized societies. I am tired of being outraged. I am tired of having to express regret for these actions. I am tired of witnessing the pain and horror of the torture of young Guyanese men. I am sure that we all must be tired of being tired. It is time to end this madness. The PPP/C government must take responsibility for Thornton and every other person’s injuries. Time to call a spade a spade.

Yours faithfully,
Lurlene Nestor

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