Jun 03, 2014 News
Even in the midst of defending itself against two serious allegations of human rights abuse, the Guyana Police Force is now investigating another case of alleged torture against some of its ranks at the Sparendaam Police Station.
A young man, Junior Thornton, who was a prisoner there, is now hospitalized with severe burns to both hands.
He said that police ranks soaked them in methylated spirits and set them alight. This was after he was engaged in a fight with another prisoner in the lock-ups last week Tuesday.
Kaieteur News understands that Thornton was picked up for loitering early last week and was held in the lock-ups for a few days.
It is alleged that on Monday Thornton began behaving in a disorderly manner and refused to desist when asked to do so by the ranks on duty.
He told relatives that the ranks became angry and they saturated his hands with the flammable liquid before setting fire to it.
Thornton was released with his badly burnt hands and was immediately taken to the hospital by his relatives.
The matter was first reported to the Police Complaints Authority by Thornton’s relatives who were subsequently directed to the Crime Chief.
In a statement issued yesterday, the police said that its Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating a report that Junior Thornton, 19, of Eastville Housing Scheme, Annandale, East Coast Demerara, was allegedly burnt to his hands by the police while he was in custody at the Sparendaam Police Station between May 25 and May 27, 2014, during investigations into a criminal offence.
Yesterday, Thornton was visited in hospital by Social Activist Mark Benschop and attorney at law Dexter Todd and he related his story to them.
Kaieteur News understands that several of Thornton’s relatives are flying in from overseas to pursue the matter to ensure that justice is served.
This recent incident comes at a time when the entire nation is patiently anticipating charges against police officers for violations of human rights.
Within the past two weeks chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, Justice Cecil Kennard recommended that charges be brought against three police ranks who are accused of assaulting Timehri resident Colwyn Harding.
Harding had alleged that he was sexually assaulted by a police rank who forced a condom covered wooden baton up his anus causing him to suffer severe internal injuries for which he had to undergo treatment in Jamaica, after spending several weeks in the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
The incident sparked widespread protests most of which was highlighted by the media.
In January, President Donald Ramotar decried what he called the irresponsible reporting by some sections of the media, insinuating that the implicated rank was being ‘hanged’ even before he was afforded a trial.
“Let me say upfront that this government is against any kind of torture but at the same time, I don’t believe that you hang people even before they are listened to,” the President had stated.
Late last week, justice Kennard also recommended charges for a police cadet officer who allegedly placed a gun into the mouth of 16-year-old Alex Griffith and pulled the trigger in Russian roulette style, sending a bullet through his mouth.
That incident also sparked massive public outrage especially given the length of time the investigation was taking.
Two weeks ago the Government denied that there was any widespread reportage of acts of torture in Guyana by ranks of the Guyana Police Force or that there was any widespread acts of torture in Guyana, and as such rejected a motion by Leader of the Political Opposition, Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, which called on the President to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the torture of persons by ranks of the Guyana Police Force, between 2006 and 2013 and to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence.
The motion was approved nonetheless given the voting strength of the political opposition in the House.
Some police ranks upon learning of the most recent allegations issued strong words of condemnation. “These people continue doing stupidness although they hearing how they charging we like nothing …by the time you miss, you getting charge,” one rank lamented.
Up to last night there was no indication that anyone was placed under close arrest.
The case is reminiscent of a similar method used by the police to inflict injuries to the genitals of teenager Tywon Thomas, while he was in custody at the Leonora Police Station a few years ago.
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