Nagamootoo recounts near death experiences as House passes motion calling for COI to investigate police torture

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By Kurt Campbell

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP), Moses Nagamootoo recalled being a victim of torture and several near death experiences, involving the police amid blame casting debates in the House on Wednesday night (May 21).

AFC MP, Moses Nagamootoo.
AFC MP, Moses Nagamootoo.

The MPs were at the time speaking on a motion, piloted by Opposition Leader David Granger, calling for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate acts of police torture between 2006 – 2013.

Nagamootoo said the issue of torture is a worrisome development in society as he compared it to having the same negative and scourge like impact as suicide.

He recalled having a cocked gun held to his head, being blindfolded, bound and held captive for several days, on separate incidents, during the early years of his political career as a basis for his relation to acts of torture.

He told his colleague MPs, who spoke of [political] torture outside of what Granger’s motion addressed and sought to point out under which administration police torture was most prevalent, that “torture has no brand and is remains inhumane and forbidden by local and international constitutions.”

Meanwhile, Granger in his motion expressed sympathy with the victims of torture and called upon the President to appoint a COI that will make recommendations to prevent the recurrence of acts of torture, in keeping with the Commission of Inquiry Act, Chapter 19:03.

He said he was happy with the exhaustive exploration of the motion which spread over four hours and noted he was heartened by the support of the House, despite the resounding ‘no’ that came from the government benches when the motion was put to a vote.

Granger cautioned the government as Nagamootoo did that “torture of the past must not be an excuse torture in the present” adding that “the debate was useful for both sides and should not be a matter for washing dirty laundry.”

He told the National Assembly that his hope is for police who commit illegal acts of torture against citizens to be identified and action taken against such persons as opposed to being shuffled around as he pointed to what occurred in previous cases.

“Don’t cover up, don’t drop charges, don’t lose the files.”David Granger

Granger opined that there seems to be a pattern which suggests that the police think it is ok to use torture and urged that it be corrected immediately

He called on Government Chief Whip Gail Texieria, to ensure that she uses her Presidential Advisory influence to ensure the Head of State implements the resolution.

During her contribution to the debate, Texeiria observed that alot of police torture occurred under the administration of the PNC government and questioned why that period was not included to be covered by the COI which the opposition calls for.

She recalled Former President Desmond Hoyte establishing the Police Complaints Authority after reports of police torture and brutality was record and said that the authority received the most complaints in the first year of its establishment (1986) of over 500.

She was stern in noting that torture was reprehensible and must be condemned by all.

“I’m glad that the motion covers the period 2006 because I was Home Affairs Minister then and Winston Felix was my Commissioner…. I will speak if the commission of inquiry is established and I will not be constrained.”

She went onto question the relevance of such a COI, adding that there exist several mechanisms to deal with such complaints and urged citizens to use these mechanisms.

She said any act of torture is in no way state condoned and called for the strengthening of the Office of Professional Responsibility, the Police Complaints Authority, the Court system and witness protection.

Throughout the debate, the cases where a minor’s genitals were allegedly scorched by police ranks, where police sodomized a prisoner with a condom covered baton and more recently the case where a 15 year old was shot in his  mouth by a police officer was noted.

There were several other less popular cases mentioned. Also contributing to the debate were James Bond, Anil Nandlall, Winston Felix and Clement Rohee.

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