GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – A significant number of prisoners say they have suffered physical abuse at the hands of police officers in a bid to testify or change their testimonies, according to a report released on Monday.
The report of the US$2.3 million study funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme showed that several violations had been committed.
“More worrisome is that almost four out of 10 inmates (said) they had been hit in an effort to compel them to testify or to change their statement while at the police station,” according to the report of the nationwide prison survey published on the website of the Ministry of Public Security.
The report has raised questions regarding the behaviour of members of the Guyana Police Force towards inmates, noting that officers do not always fully respect the civil and human rights of detainees.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said while he was not totally ruling out the occurrence of police ill-treatment, he believes that the stories told to researchers by the inmates may be “self-corroborating”.
However, he acknowledged that “to a large extent we have that.”
The report comes at a time when the police force is receiving kudos for an upsurge in confession statements that interrogators say they obtained from detainees lawfully.
The “Final Report of the Guyana Prison Service Inmates Survey” calls for a review of the police’s performance and behaviour, noting also that a warrant in writing was only shown to one out of 10 inmates after being arrested.
It said also that only 17.4 per cent of detainees were informed by the police that they were entitled to a lawyer.
It said that such behaviour by the law enforcement authorities “not only violates the accepted good practices in the treatment of detainees but it also violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,”.
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