Press Release: Shaquille Grant Shooting
Georgetown -- Partners for Peace and Development express grave sadness at the death of 17 year--old youth, Shaquille Grant who was gunned down in his neighborhood by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF). According to the police this Incident was precipitated by a single report that Grant and three friends were planning a crime. From the accounts of the Agricola residents and the survivors, the brutal death of Grant follows a trend of extra--judicial killings.
Partners for Peace and Development is concerned that the Guyana Police Force has been in breach of the Constitution of Guyana and the Criminal Law Procedures Act with respect to arresting suspects or someone deemed to be in breach of the peace. It is clear from the GPF account that there was no attempt to arrest Messrs. Shaquille Grant, Romel Bollers Jamal Henry and Nicholas Eastman based on the alleged report of conspiracy to commit a crime. If indeed, four young men resisted police arrest having been cornered under a dilapidated shed, then the police should adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and subdue them. On the contrary, the body of young Shaquille Grant revealed that he was fired at three times in areas of his body that suggest the intention was to kill. Furthermore, the survivors bear witness that the excessive use of force that resulted in the demise of this young leader was not necessary. The young man was crying for the officer to help him. Partners for Peace and Development condemn these inhumane actions by some members of the GPF.
Partners for Peace and Development is concerned that after millions of dollars of investment under international cooperation and economic agreements with development partners supporting police and judicial reform programmes, we, the people have only observed improved its hardware capabilities. The society as a whole has not benefited from improved policing and protection services as result of these reform programmes. The fact that Shaquille Grant’s family could enumerate incidents of GPF excessive and lethal over time in Agricola suggests that the investment in reforms have not redounded to the citizens. Less than a week after Grant’s demise, residents’ claims of police harassment in the village of Pouderoyen is worrying. Further, the reports of police arrest of a 12 year--old boy from his place of residence, without first notifying an adult relative is a clear constitutional violation on many levels.
Partners for Peace Development is very surprised that some members of the GPF continue with extra--judicial actions with impunity even after the public outcry over the shooting to death of three unarmed protestors who were voicing their concerns about electricity hikes in Linden. It would serve the rouge elements of the Guyana Police Force to remember the purpose of the Wolfe Commission; to understand how their treatment of citizens as enemies of the state is inconsistent with good governance, democratic practice and counter--productive to peace and social cohesion.
We encourage the Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leroy Brummel, to make good on his obligation to ensure that the investigation into Shaquille Grant’s death is robust, transparent and above repute. Further, we call on the leadership of the Guyana Police Force to resist pressures to cover for errant ranks and initiate the process of justice to remedy the actions of policemen who are disturbing peace and well--being of citizens and undermining justice by barraging into communities and harassing innocent citizens.??
As citizens we would like to benefit from improved police--civilians relations (not the kind that asks you to ‘leave a raise’ when chilling with your partner in the privacy of your car on the seawall); we would like to benefit from proper investigations into crimes, we would like to benefit from timely response and protection when our lives and property are
under threat from ‘real’ criminals. We would like to be served by a police force that adheres to SOPs that are not incompatible with our fundamental human rights to life, association and assembly. We would like to benefit from forensics and intelligence gathering by the GPF to solve crimes; from a policing service where the police detectives are not executed in the line of duty; a police force that rigorously disciplines those within own their ranks rather than transfer police--civilian challenges from one Region to the next. We would like to benefit from a more robust and timely justice system. We would like to benefit from a Parliament that treats with the matter of extrajudicial killings and other
forms of unprofessional conduct and indiscretion by the GPF with alacrity.
Today as the world and our own country observes International Day of Peace or Global Day of Ceasefire (21 September, 2012) Partners for Peace and Development remembers all of our youth who died or were tortured from Shaka Blair to Yohance Douglas, from Vanessa Thomas to Seegobin Harilall, from Kelvin Fraser to Dax Arokium, from Ron Somerset to Shaquille Grant whose rights to live in freedom and peace were denied in their own country. We pray for their families and other survivors that they may contemplate peace even as they endure pain, suffering and wait for justice. Finally, we urge all Guyanese to take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships, as well as influence the conflicts in our society towards non--violence and lasting peace.
Members of Partners for Peace and Development
Walter J. Alexander