Thursday, November 27, 2008

Torture, Torture and...Torture

In a response to the demand, by significant sections of the society, that the Torture Report be published, the Jagdeo Administration has issued two versions of that document. One version is a comprehensive document in which the names of those who perpetrated acts of torture are clearly stated, and the other is the sanitized version of carefully selected extracts from this document with the names excised.

The names of the members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Board of Inquiry have been edited out, as are the names of those who, within the Military Criminal Intelligence Department (MCID), conducted the interrogation of individuals.

The Jagdeo Administration could have saved themselves the trouble of engaging in such a wasteful exercise. By now every school child knows the names of the officers who conducted the interrogation for the MCID. In this regard, the PNCR has taken careful note of the fact that Major O. Khan and Captain S. Sukull, among others, were asked to give evidence to the Board of Inquiry.

The report regrettably seeks to redefine the nature of torture even though the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) explicitly states what this is. It would be appropriate, therefore, to give both definitions.

The GDF Board of Inquiry seeks to offer this definition of what it considers to be torture:

“It should be noted that from the Board’s interpretation of the UN convention Article 1 definition of torture, that the words “severe pains or suffering” allows for a threshold where torture can be described at the highest point or level of an interrogation process comprising cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Once an act therefore crosses this threshold where severe pain or suffering is inflicted, a distinction can then be drawn between acts of torture and physical abuse or ill-treatment.”

This torturous and misleading definition of torture cannot obscure its political purpose. It is intended to prevent the conclusion that persons, such as Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner, and members of the GDF, to wit, Alvin Wilson, Michael Dunn and Sharth Robertson, were not tortured. The Guyanese public have all heard the PPP propagandists engaging in vulgar and distasteful politicking by saying that those interrogated, by the MCID, were “roughed up” and not subject to torture.

The UN Convention Against Torture, contrary to what the GDF, at the behest of the Government, seeks to deny, is very clear about what torture is. Here is what Article 1 (1) of the UN Convention Against Torture states:

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

After it was first published on this blog, the PNCR has answered our question about three soldiers.

The PNCR said that it dares the Jagdeo Administration and the PPP to deny that severe pain and suffering, mental or physical, were not inflicted on Victor Jones, Patrick Sumner, Alvin Wilson, Michael Dunn and Sharth Robertson, in order to obtain information in relation to criminal activities in Buxton and the loss of an AK-47 by the GDF.

It is noteworthy that, even though Sharth Robertson alleged that he was tortured by the MCID, he does not seem to be the subject of the sanitized Report, for some strange reason. The Chief of Staff, Commodore Gary Best, might wish to offer an explanation.

The fact of two versions of the Torture Report, gives credibility to the belief that the Jagdeo Administration is prepared to go to any lengths to cover up the fact that it has condoned torture and to protect those who are engaged in this nefarious activity, especially the two GDF officers, who conducted the interrogation on behalf of the MCID.

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