Station-cell incarceration: Human rights violations

-Coalition politics and victors

The man I knew as “father” was a policeman all his life. Even in his retirement when he taught young recruits to drive and was himself the driver and “Man Friday” for Sir Shridath Ramphal, he remained an “Ole police” at heart.

Various uncles and senior cousins of my youth were all policemen. I visited and “lived” in many station compounds throughout Guyana’s coastland. Hence, I became a police sympathiser and supporter into adulthood, then the creeping senior years. You can imagine then my ebbs and flows as I experience what local policing has evolved into. I’ve written many pieces on this, even with the creolese theme “Aftuh God, is police!”

Now I’m forced to return to a most negative issue relevant to the GPF involving a young detained offender whose human rights are trampled upon daily, weekly. And the mother, known to me, has evidentiary proof of police transgressions.

Inhumanity – before and after guilt
This concerns an under-18 young man who was before the Court on a (dubious) charge involving forgery and for fraud.

Very early in this year, he was placed before a magistrate’s court and thus began the torturous journey of delays and postponements of several hearings. Since he had absconded from the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) in Essequibo because of alleged bullying and beatings, he was held at various police stations on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).

The police apparently determined that the teenager, nearing eighteen, was no longer a minor and should be deemed adult and could not be accommodated at Georgetown’s Sophia Detention Centre for young offenders. Here is a partial list of the inhumane treatment meted out and endured by the young offender who had been brutally dragged out of a South Ruimveldt “lessons class” by armed, aggressive policemen acting (privately) on behalf of a complainant. (The Headteacher has prepared a statement but the Police Office of Professional Responsibility seemed to be (understandably?) indifferent to the mother’s appeals.)

The lad was often housed in cramped EBD police station cells with adult seasoned accused, for despite claims to the contrary, there is no appropriate areas for youthful offenders. The mother was asked for a thousand-dollar “top-up” so the lad could use a piece of cardboard or foam on the cold concrete floor. If she arrived a little late, no food would be accepted. A childhood asthmatic, the teenager developed pneumonia. Many visits had to be made to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, as he might now be a victim of Tuberculosis as he awaits sentencing. (That facility has records, hopefully.)

Frequently, the EBD stations are under-manned. Especially in the evenings and nights. The mother reported days ago that the Grove-Diamond station had one female rank alone one evening. The remanded teen could not receive food or medication because another male rank had the lone key to the cell whilst on patrol. And last Friday, the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) could not accept the accused as it was a weekend. The lad was therefore “lodged” at the Suddie Police Station for the week-end. Hunger was his main companion.

If the above sampling of human rights mistreatment does not depress, very little will, so insensitive a new generation has become. Note that I have refrained from commenting on the actual trial and its outcome. Defence attorney has shared his woeful views with me. I have my own layman’s conclusion based on what I observed in the Courtroom.

Among the places the mother appealed to are the NOC, the Department of Youth, the Police OPR, the DPP Chambers, the Probation Department, the Division’s Commander and the Detention Centres. Guess what were the results.

The Court is about to hand down some sentence after a probation report. But to me, the experiences of this soon-to-be-eighteen lad, have combined to make him bitter, hardened – and endlessly unhealthy. A kind of death sentence?

The Coalition’s victors
Since 1993 I was referring to the once-vibrant Working People’s Alliance (the WPA) as a think tank. Vested with fine political minds and high profile academics that entity is best suited to the role of analysis, commentary and socio-political discourse. End of story. Ask Dr Roop.

Silenced by some status in the Coalition, the WPA top honcho has reverted to his professional status only. Whoever thought that the PNC majority would not prevail? Who would doubt that the WPA/AFC ladies and gentlemen would not enjoy government – even as underlings? In the greater noble cause of keeping the PPP demolition crew out?

The shrewd victorious PNC majority is comfortable in that knowledge – and status.

Ponder please…
1.  Justice on pause: Dr Bheri Ramsaran, former Minister Westford and her colleague Margaret Cummings have all had their court cases put on hold pending decisions from higher courts on respective related matters. Clever defence counsel. Hardly available to poorer folks like me.

  1. When is a refugee an immigrant?
  2. What an imminent lecture! Dr Rupert Roopnaraine on “Coalition Politics – Challenges and Compromise”.
  3. Congrats to the young lady from Aishalton, South Rupununi Teneisha Toney. Another Desrey Fox in the making?
  4. Acquire the old Co-op bank building and convert into a modern vendors mall.

’Til next week!

(allanafenty@yahoo.com)