Acts of torture by Guyanese police must be punished
Amnesty International has urged the Guyanese authorities to charge police officers involved in the torture and ill-treatment of three individuals, including a 15-year-old boy, who were detained in relation to a murder investigation. 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. He was one of three men arrested for the murder of local government official Ramenauth Bisram, who died of multiple stab wounds on 26 October. 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. Amnesty International has urged the Guyanese authorities to provide him with medical attention and investigate the circumstances leading to his 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. The three suspects were denied visits by family members and legal representatives and were also refused medical attention while in custody. “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. Media in the Caribbean country report that two police officers were detained in connection with the torture of the 15-year-old boy. The teenager was arrested on 27 October and taken the next day to Leonora police station, 12 miles west of the capital Georgetown, where he was beaten. When he refused to sign a confession, police officers held him down and doused his genital area with a flammable liquid, which they set alight. He was not given proper medical treatment or access to legal representation until 31 October, despite repeated attempts by his lawyers and family to see him. Deonarine Rafick was struck by a piece of wood on his back, legs, buttocks, face and scalp, while being held in Leonora on 27 October. According to his testimony, the inside of his mouth was also burnt with cigarettes. He was forced to sign a confession stating that he was involved in the murder. His lawyers were only granted access to him on 29 October despite repeated previous attempts. He was brought before a court and charged with murder on 30 October. His face was visibly bruised and the wound on his scalp had not been stitched. He is currently in prison pending a preliminary investigation. According to his lawyer and family, he has not yet received medical attention. “There must be a full investigation into how officers were allowed to blatantly flout Guyanese and international laws by refusing access to family, lawyers and medical treatment for several days,” said Kerrie Howard.