Extra-judicial killings, torture, corruption…
Amidst an audience of political representatives, members of various concern organisations and other notable members of the society, the Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP) yesterday launched the much anticipated dossier at City Hall.
It was at the same venue on August 13 last, during a meeting, that the JOPP made a public commitment to compile a dossier for the purpose of giving support to the demand by the opposition parties for an international inquiry into extra-judicial killings, torture and matters of corruption.
According to Chairman of yesterday’s proceeding, the Working People Alliance’s Rupert Roopnaraine, it was initially anticipated that the dossier would have been completed in a matter of three weeks. However it took just about three months instead but not without reason, he added.
“We embarked on a campaign of ongoing consultations with members of the public that saw the opposition parties campaigning in Georgetown and Linden…We had intended to extend the campaign to Berbice and Essequibo but we encountered a great number of difficulties.”
Another reason for the delay in the completion of the dossier was attributed to the ‘digging into’ the historical records that was required. As a result, there was the need to be thorough and to carry out as much verification as possible. Roopnaraine cited what he called the “well known location conditions under which we are forced to work” as a third reason for the length of time taken to complete the dossier. And just when the document was nearing completion the shocking revelations of October 31 (tortured teen) warranted more documentation including the addition of an entire new Appendix nine.
Professor Clive Thomas, Roopnaraine said, carried the main burden of the preparation of the document. “I think that once you read it you would be able to see the logic and clarity of the argument which are hallmarks of his work.” Appreciation was also extended to the Alliance For Change’s Khemraj Ramjattan for the analysis he made of the evidence emanating from the Robert Simels trial in New York which forms part of the rational for the dossier. And then there was Everall Franklin of GAP/ROAR who took responsibility for the publication of the documents. But without the painstaking work of documentation carried out by the Human Rights Association and the PNCR, the document would not have been as comprehensive, according to Roopnaraine.
NATURE OF THE DOCUMENT
Roopnaraine who has been working on the compilation and production of political documents for the last 33 years, said that he has never worked on a document that has been more appalling and caused him more distress than the dossier. “The catalogue of torture, degrading and cruel treatment and murder is really something which one visits with great apprehension and distress.”
According to Roopnaraine, the question of reproducing the photograph of the tortured teen in the dossier is something which has drawn comments from a number of people including people within the joint opposition parties. “There has been a strongly expressed view that the reproduction and circulation of the photograph further exploits and dehumanises the child. And since part of what the dossier is about is the protection of the child this may be in contradiction with what we are trying to do.” As such he noted that the JOPP will have to put on the agenda of discussion how to treat with the question of the photograph in future editions of the dossier.
The objective of the dossier, Roopnaraine said is set out very early and is intended to establish that there is a sufficient prima facie basis to warrant further interrogation of grave human rights abuses in Guyana by an independent body cloaked with legal authority to do so. And because the events documented include murder “we commit to the fact that statutes of limitation do not apply. Therefore as parties to this request this is a standing forever call for an inquiry that justice and fair play apply.”
As a matter of record, the parties will undertake to comply and make their organisations and members fully and freely available to all independent investigations and interrogation conducted in pursuit of the truth in relation to any or all of the matters identified in the request.
“We have included in this dossier, for example in appendix two, the instances of extra judicial murders and violence perpetrated by security forces and forces working in alliance with the state on citizens of Guyana. Appendix three includes all instances of murder most of them unsolved but we wanted to ensure that no one can level an accusation at this dossier that we have been unduly selective in the way in which we have presented the violations.”
“We have also within the dossier attempted to track the record and it will not be the first time that we are attempting here in Guyana to engage the attention of international and human rights bodies and so on in relation to issues of torture.” Because Guyana is a signatory to a number of international torture conventions including the conventions against torture and the rights of the child, JOPP is seeking to build on the record of representation to strengthen the case for an international inquiry.
Addressing the gathering yesterday, leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Robert Corbin, noted that it is now a matter of public record that the revelations during the trial of Robert Simels and self confessed drug trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan in the USA was a catalyst for the opposition parties to meet and decide on a common approach. The approach, according to Corbin, is of issues that have great implications for national security and the safety of the citizens of Guyana.
According to AFC Leader Raphael Trotman, the dossier is already making an impact in the society. He related that a meeting is expected to be held shortly with the United States State Department as the document has already been placed in the possession of officials there.
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