U.S. stings Guyana on Human Rights again
The U.S. State Department has again rapped Guyana for its human rights record. The 2011 report on Human Rights Practices by the State Department that the most serious human rights abuses involved complaints of mistreatment of suspects and detainees by security forces, unlawful killings by police, and poor prison and jail conditions.
Other human rights problems highlighted in the report included lengthy pretrial detention; allegations of government corruption, including among police officials; sexual and domestic violence against women; and abuse of minors.
The State Department noted that there were no independent and transparent procedures for handling allegations of killings and other abuses by security force members.
“Prosecutions when pursued were extremely lengthy, and convictions were rare. As a result there was a widespread perception that security force members enjoyed impunity,” the report, released Thursday, stated.
The report noted the five fatal police shootings recorded by the Guyana Human Rights Association.
The State Department took note of reports alleging mistreatment of inmates by prison officials as well as allegations of police abuse of suspects and detainees.
During 2011, the report noted that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) received 11 complaints of unnecessary use of violence. “Local media reported several cases of random police brutality, arrest, and interrogation prior to investigation,” the report stated.
The State Department took note of the September 9 case when a policeman allegedly pointed a gun at, beat, and then arrested a taxi driver Claude Bristol for driving away from the police following a traffic stop.
It noted that authorities charged Detective Corporal Ricardo Inniss on February 1 with the December 2010 rape of a 21-year-old woman in custody at the Turkeyen Police Station, the case was subsequently dismissed.
The report also took note of the fact that on January 14, after the witnesses failed to appear, the court dismissed the high-profile case against three police officers for maliciously wounding three suspects during a murder investigation in 2009.
The State Department declared that prison and jail conditions were poor and deteriorating, particularly in police holding cells, where capacity and resource constraints were a problem.
The Guyana Prison Service (GPS) reported that as of October 31, there were 1,962 prisoners in five facilities, which had a combined design capacity of 1,580, the State Department noted.
A total of 997 prisoners were in Georgetown’s Camp Street Prison, which was designed to hold 775 inmates, the report stated, noting that overcrowding was in large part due to a backlog of pretrial detainees, who constituted approximately 39 percent of the total prison population.
The report noted that prisoners have access to potable water, and government medical officers visit each prison on a monthly basis.
In addition, a medical team consisting of a medical examiner, registered nurses, and assistant nurses provide daily treatment and monitor the sick as advised by the medical doctors.
The State Department noted that there were 88 female prisoners, all at the New Amsterdam prison, while authorities held some female detainees temporarily at the East La Penitence Police Station.
Unlike in past years, when all newly hired prison guards received limited human rights training from the Guyana Human Rights Association, the association was not invited to conduct training during the year, the US State Department noted.
Although precinct jails were intended to serve only as pretrial holding areas, some suspects were detained there for as long as two years, awaiting judicial action on their cases.