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Guyana President Speaks Up On Teen Torture

CaribWorldNews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Fri. Nov. 6, 2009: The Guyana president has broken his silence on the torture of a 14-year-old detainee and given the country`s police officials two weeks to investigate the allegation.

President Bharrat Jagdeo called the act `a terrible stain` on the country`s police force. Speaking to the media at a press conference Thursday at the Office of the President, the Head of State said such a callous incident, if committed against anyone, must be unequivocally condemned.

The Head of State reiterated that a full, open investigation would be adamantly pursued, following which would be a report that would be made public within a space of two weeks. He also made it clear that the perpetrators, inclusive of the direct and supporting participants will have to face the consequences.

But he insisted it is unfair to paint every policeman or soldier with the same brush. `Hundreds of them every day, they are the frontline against criminals, these are the people we call on when something happens and many of them in spite of very difficult situations; remuneration not great, sometimes the conditions of service are not great but they go out there and put their lives many days on the line for all of us and the recent incident where they were targeted would show that. So we can`t allow the actions of a few to cause us to forget the hundreds out there who do their work professionally and with decency,` President Jagdeo said.

So far two police officers have been arrested in connection with the alleged torture of the teen. Police officers tortured the teenager by setting light to his genitals after he refused to sign a confession. He was subsequently released with all charges dropped and is now in hospital. Another suspect, Deonarine Rafick, remains in prison after police beat him with a piece of wood and allegedly burnt his mouth with cigarettes to force him to sign a confession. The third suspect, 20-year-old Nouravie Wilfred, had charges against him dropped on Tuesday after being held incommunicado for seven days. Under Guyanese law a suspect can be held by police for up to 72 hours before being brought before a court.

Meanwhile, global rights group, Amnesty International, has urged the Guyanese authorities to charge police officers involved in the torture and ill-treatment of three individuals, including the teen, who were detained in relation to a murder investigation. `These appalling acts of brutality by members of the Guyana Police Force must not go unpunished,` said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International`s Deputy Director for the Americas Programme.