Nov 29, 2008 News
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) yesterday lashed out at the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) for its references to the ‘Torture Report.’
According to a release issued to the media yesterday by the GDF, the report of the Board of Inquiry into allegations of torture was done by the GDF, and at no time did the GDF submit a “Torture Report” to the Defence Board.
“Yet, the PNCR continues to irresponsibly refer to the report as such…The inquiry did not find any evidence of “torture.”
The GDF said that it wishes to set the record straight, and expressed concern that the PNCR is wilfully seeking to vilify the officers of the GDF by incorrectly naming them as those who engaged in “torture”.
Executive Member of the PNCR, Aubrey Norton, on Thursday last, said that two senior Guyana Defence Force officers, Major Omar Khan and Captain Sukul, have been placed on the radar of the party, which has taken careful note of the fact that the two, among others, were asked to give evidence to the Board of Inquiry which investigated allegations of torture by ranks of the GDF.
The GDF added that, “This dogged reluctance by the PNCR to address this issue and report in an honest an unambiguous manner points clearly to their efforts to destabilise and demoralise the Guyana Defence Force, sow seeds of hatred, enmity and discord among the populace toward ranks of the GDF, whose only mission is to discharge their mandate of defence and the maintenance of order for the people of this country by ensuring their safety and protection.”
It added that pursuant to the Board of Inquiry which was done and the subsequent tabling of the report with the Defence Board, the GDF has taken action against its ranks for use of excessive force, which was the finding of the Board.
When asked by media operatives at the press briefing if the party would seek to have charges brought against Khan and Sukul, Norton told media operatives that what the party was seeking to do by naming ranks was to point out the obvious, and were it not the case, “ensure that it becomes.”
“When we look at the report produced by the Government, were the GDF officers involved?”
According to Norton, his party was, over time, accumulating statements from persons who have alleged torture. Some 22 GDF ranks and one policeman testified before a three-man team that was set up to investigate allegations of torture in the army.
The team was set up to investigate torture allegations committed on Corporal Wilson and Private Dunn by members of the Military Intelligence Department between November 23 and December 6 last year, at Camp Ayanganna.
A summary of the Torture Report, which was prepared by the Board of Inquiry that took evidence between January 12 and January 16 last, contained statements by the soldiers that they were physically restrained by their hands and feet while bags were placed on their heads.
It also stated that cold water was thrown on them while attempts were made to strangle them. This is a controversial form of, and in many instances illegal method of, interrogation called water boarding, which simulates the drowning.
In their statements, the soldiers claimed that they were stripped of their clothes as ranks enforced electric shocks and physical blows to various parts of their bodies.
However, the board ruled that the examination of injuries and the medical results showed a strong inconsistency in relation to the alleged torture.
The report noted that there was a lack of supervision by SO1 G2 and OC MCID during the process of interrogation.
It noted also that there was a lack of experience on the part of the interrogators, and pointed out that more interrogatively-friendly methods to obtain information from the persons under investigation are needed.
In the report, it was recommended by the investigating board that a review of the existing protocols on interrogation be conducted with a view to establish a clear policy on the issue of interrogation and ways of obtaining information.
It also recommended that officers/other ranks be properly trained in the field of interrogation.
There was, however, no mention of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones.
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