Lethem police held four youths for 92 hours without a court order

Dear Editor,

On Friday the 6th May at about 10 pm four Amerindian youths were arrested in Tabatinga, Lethem, and placed in the lock-ups by the Lethem police allegedly for possession of a prohibited substance weighing 5 grammes found in a car they had been in. On Tuesday 10th May at 9 am they were taken from the lock-ups and placed on a bench in the police station. Up to this point they were not charged with any crime, neither was a court order granted to the police to detain them without charge for over 72 hours.

On enquiring about the reason for this illegal detention, relatives were told that the police were awaiting results of tests carried out on the substance allegedly in their possession, to verify if it was an illegal substance, before a decision could be made to release or charge the young men. At 6 pm on Tuesday, 92 hours after they were detained, they were released without charges being laid, but after paying $20,000 each. These payments were demanded and made at the police station with no receipts being issued. Upon their release the young men were given no documents or instructions relating to the case.

One of the young men detained was suffering from malaria and had to be hospitalized under police guard during the ordeal. His mother was also hospitalized due to stress caused by the incident. Precious time and money, for meals, transportation, etc, were spent by relatives of these men during their time in custody. The Officer in Charge was very boisterous and unprofessional.

This is seen by many members of the public as a case of downright incompetence at the very least on the part of Lethem Police Station. Whatever the case the civil rights of the four young men involved were seriously abused by the Guyana Police Force, by detention over 72 hours without charge or a court order for continued detention. Requiring money for their release, in the absence of charges or bail receipts, is also unacceptable.

The public has welcomed the promises of the Minister of Public Security to weed out incompetent and corrupt police from the Force for which he is responsible. The public looks to him now to investigate this complaint and take action to begin to repair the reputation of the Guyana Police Force.

Yours faithfully,

(Name and address provided)

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