Nov 01, 2008 News
“It was not a hands-off investigation,” was the explanation of Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon yesterday, when he responded to questions on whether the use of torture or the phrase ‘roughing up’ was the appropriate description of the treatment meted out to alleged torture victims.
Dr Luncheon was at the time addressing media personnel at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President.
According to the Cabinet Secretary, the Board of Inquiry which investigated the matter had in fact characterised the treatment as ‘roughing up’, a description which was emphasised last Monday in the National Assembly by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament Robert Persaud.
Dr Luncheon, who is also the Secretary of the Defence Board, disclosed yesterday that while the information contained in the torture report has been made public, the report itself has not been placed in the public domain.
“If the decision is made that the document and the details are not going to be made public, then that is the decision.
I would be the first to recognise the anxieties by members of the Joint Services whose names, ranks and entities have been identified as being accused of torture to throw that out into the public domain, particularly when the opposition and others have made it quite clear that they would use that information to attack.”
According to Dr Luncheon, the Government does not have any intention to continue the allegations of torture.
He also speculated on the possibly of the names of identified persons being expunged.
“It wasn’t a tea party. The questioning was aggressive, and it is on that basis that the findings were that there was roughing up of those who alleged that they have been tortured,” said Dr Luncheon.
However, he asserted that neither the Board of Inquiry nor the Defence Board has been willing to concede that the ‘roughing up’ is in any way synonymous with the act of torture.
A motion against the use of torture was brought before the National Assembly on Monday last by the People’s National Congress Reform. And according to Dr Luncheon, it was after a “record-breaking marathon sitting,” which extended into the wee hours of Tuesday morning, that the Government side was able to defeat the PNCR motion on torture.
Dr Luncheon pointed out that the contributions made by the various PPP/C Members of Parliament were duly noted by Cabinet when it met on Thursday.
“The contributions made particularly by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee were noted.
(They) castigated the opposition for their unnecessary, indiscriminate, unprincipled and deceitful posturing on the subject of the Joint Services and their work in crime fighting,” the Cabinet Secretary related.
According to Dr Luncheon, the contributions made by the members of the PNCR at that extended sitting of Parliament “was just a bashing of the Joint Services…”
As such, he noted, the PPP/C has moved to the public domain to cultivate more confidence in what the Joint Services is doing, and to get more opportunities to satisfy the public that “we are indeed progressing in the quality of service being offered.”
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