On March 1st, 2003, 17-year-old UG student, Yohance Douglas,
was shot and killed by police while travelling with three of his
friends at the corner of Sheriff and Bonasika streets, Section
'K' Campbellville, Georgetown, mortally wounding one of them.
Ronson Gray (19) is also wounded, with gunshot wounds in his mouth.
A third teen, O'Neil King, the son of police officer Pamela King,
was shot in the right hand.
PNC PRESS STATEMENT
Congress Place, Sophia
March 4th, 2003
Saturday 1st March 2003 was another sad day
in the history of Guyana with yet another extra-judicial killing,
this time of 18-year-old University of Guyana Student, Yohance
Douglas, along with the critical wounding of Ronson Gray and three
other young men. The People’s National Congress Reform expresses
its deepest condolences to the parents, relatives and dear friends
of Yohance Douglas. At the same time we continue to pray for the
recovery of Ronson Gray who still lies in a serious condition
in hospital with gunshot wounds to his mouth.
These heinous crimes, according to the Commissioner,
were committed by members of the “Fountain Squad”
in broad daylight and in the full view of numerous witnesses.
However, PNCR intelligence sources suggest that the group included
persons attached to the new and dangerous “Phantom Force”.
The politically hand picked Fountain Squad of the Guyana Police
Force is reportedly, the replacement for the notorious “Black
Clothes Police” and reports directly to Home Affairs Minister,
Ronald Gajraj. Its apparent purpose is to summarily execute anyone
whose name is placed on a special list given to them.
The young victims of this outrage represent the
best of young Guyanese manhood. These were serious university
students and athletes with healthy and wholesome attitudes to
life. The PNCR, and we believe most of Guyana, are convinced beyond
any doubt that these young men are not criminals. The attempt
to so label them is a gross insult to the intelligence of the
Guyanese people and a further injustice to the young men and their
The PNCR has been carrying a relentless campaign
for several years on the matter of extra judicial killings by
rogue elements in the police force. We have documented that at
least 250 young men have perished in this reign of genocide under
this PPP/C regime. Our call for the ending of extra-judicial killings
has, for more than three years, fallen on deaf ears and indeed
there were times when we were disappointed at the lack of interest
and consciousness on the part of the moral and civil forces in
our society. It is unfortunate that it took these terrible events
to open the eyes of society to the nature of the beast unleashed
on our suffering people by the PPP/C Administration. The PNCR’s
position is clear and consistent; criminal law enforcement should
be done within the law. Murder and criminal activity by the Police
worsens the security situation and should also be dealt with within
the confines of the law.
Let there be no misunderstanding of the situation.
This incident occurred because the PPP/C regime has sanctioned
and condoned extra judicial killing, has condoned and facilitated
drug running and in the pursuit of this agenda has facilitated
and encouraged the growth of a breed of gangsters within the police
force who are allowed to operate above the law. There can be no
other public policy purpose served by this madness. The PNCR hopes
that those in the PPP/C regime who may still have consciences
will have enough moral fibre to disassociate themselves from this
action, publicly, and preserve some of their integrity and reputations.
The behaviour of these squads of murderers when
approaching citizens violates all norms and Rules Of Engagement
and their constitutional rights. The facts reveal that these young
men, while going about their business peacefully, and in a law
abiding manner, were ruthlessly attacked “Mafioso”
style, without the gunmen identifying themselves. The men in the
vehicle who executed Yohance Douglas and grievously wounded Ronson
Gray were casually attired and therefore could not be recognized
as law enforcement officers. Their “funky dread” hairstyles,
FUBU shirts and three quarter pants are the very opposite of professionalism.
If due process were followed, this situation
would never have occurred. The Police hierarchy and the political
directorate have allowed this type of wanton killing and abuse
of citizens’ rights to continue unabated. Clearly, the responsibility
for the death of Yohance Douglas and grievous injury to Ronson
Gray must extend beyond those who pulled the trigger and rest
squarely on the PPP/C regime and the spineless leadership of the
Guyana Police Force. The fact that the blood of the innocent has
been flowing seems to be of no concern to the PPP/C who remain
contemptuous, callous and uncaring.
Extra-judicial killings are obviously one of
the anti-crime measures and policies of the administration in
Guyana. This is a crime against humanity for which the people
of this country will hold Jagdeo and his ministers accountable.
Reports reaching the PNCR indicate that at the
scene of the incident the victims were treated in a brutal and
inhumane manner. They were manhandled and tossed about like animals
even though seriously injured and requiring urgent medical attention.
It should be noted that Yohance Douglas, who was still alive,
was roughly pulled from the vehicle in which he was shot, dragged
on the road and thrown into the rear of the police vehicle. Later
we understand that whilst bleeding profusely, Yohance Douglas,
and the other hapless teens, were harassed and brutalized for
more than twenty minutes following the shooting before he and
Gray were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation
ostensibly to receive treatment. It is quite likely that Mr. Douglas
may well have survived if he had been afforded proper medical
care after his shooting. O’Neil King who was also wounded
and bleeding, along with the two other traumatized teens, was
taken to the Brickdam Police Station to be fingerprinted and interrogated
before medical treatment was offered.
Having executed one, and maimed others, the Police
Force in the hours and days thereafter made no attempt to show
compassion to the families of the deceased and injured. Rather
the police was busy, through its propaganda arm, suggesting that
the young men had confronted the police and were in possession
of a gun and other criminal paraphernalia. The statements contained
in the police press release are contradicted by eyewitness accounts.
It is clear that by their own actions the integrity of the police
is further compromised. The attempt by the Commissioner to placate
the families by asserting that an investigation will be done in
a few days and that there will be no cover up rings hollow. We
wish to ask a most disturbing question: Why was the Commissioner
unable to release the survivors of the outrage from the Brickdam
lock-up without the permission of the Head of the Presidential
Secretariat even though two of the young men were children of
police officers? Is there need for further evidence of the toothlessness
of the Commissioner and the political interference in the work
of the force?
We have noted that the Commissioner (ag) has
indicated that arising from this incident 2 Policemen were assigned
desk duties. From all reports, there were more than 2 persons
in the vehicle from whence fire was opened on the students. The
question arises here, who were those others? Were they also Policemen?
If so, what has become of these other Policemen? If not Police,
who were they?
It is with concern that the PNCR notes that many
Guyanese have been forced to arrive at the conclusion that these
killings are premised on profiling. In recent weeks there have
been numerous instances of young Guyanese citizens being harassed,
searched and brutalized by members of the politically controlled
Fountain Squad and others posing as policemen. No one has been
fooled by the supposed substitution of the notorious Black Clothes
Squad by the Fountain Squad. This has further been accentuated
by Gajraj handpicking this gang to carry out the nefarious activities
of his Party. This is dangerous and sinks Guyana further into
crisis and anarchy.
The PNCR stands in solidarity with the University
of Guyana Students Society, with all mothers whose children are
exposed to death and those whose children have died, and with
all peace loving and law abiding young people. We will fight for
their right to go about their lawful business in safety, always
free from the threat of wanton murder by agents of the PPP/C.
The PNCR will not accept the palliative offering
up of a few policemen in this instance. There is need for a comprehensive
approach to ensure that other young people are not exposed to
further acts of Police brutality and wanton killings and other
forms of human rights violation.
• We demand that the injured young men be provided with
the best and most appropriate medical attention available in Guyana
and beyond and that no expense be spared in that effort.
• We demand that the police declare the names of the perpetrators
of these crimes be they members of the police force or gangsters
recruited by Gajraj.
• We demand that the perpetrators be charged with murder
• We demand that there be an independent Inquiry with the
full involvement of International Human Rights Bodies to investigate
extra-judicial killings in Guyana.
• We demand that the long overdue Commission of Inquiry
into the operations of the Police Force be established immediately.
• We demand that the regime put an end to its collaboration
with criminal drug enterprises and disband the Phantom Squad.
• We demand that the incompetent and disgraced Gajraj and
McDonald be dismissed immediately.
• We demand an end to the harassment of the families of
the bereaved and injured by agents of the government.
We wish to warn the Administration that the PNCR will not stand
idly by if there are any attempts by the Administration to undermine
the exercise of the peoples’ constitutional rights to protest
this gross outrage.
We also wish to make it clear that the issues
surrounding this painful affair are for us a test of the government’s
claims to good faith, trust and seriousness about the healing
of the nation. The Guyanese people will now have an opportunity
to judge their sincerity.
The PNCR calls upon all national, regional and
international human rights and other concerned organizations to
raise their voices against this gross violation of human rights
in Guyana and support the Guyanese people in their quest to restore
a peaceful, just and democratic society. This is a moral issue
which transcends partisan allegiances and prejudices. Let this
be a wake up call for all of us. Yesterday it was Yohance. Tomorrow
it could be you or your child.
All are involved. All are consumed.
PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM
Congress Place, Sophia,
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
7 March 2003
Guyana: Amnesty International's forensic expert
to undertake second autopsy of Yohance Douglas
Dr.Sidsel Rogde, a professor of forensic pathology from Norway,
will today be undertaking an autopsy on Yohance Douglas, who was
shot and killed by members of the Guyana Police Force in Georgetown,
Guyana, on 1 March 2003. Professor Rogde will be working at the
request of the family of Yohance Douglas and Amnesty International
and acting as a consultant to Amnesty International.
Professor Rogde is a highly experienced pathologist. She has previously
worked for Amnesty International, most recently in Kenya. She
is involved in human rights initiatives by the Norwegian Medical
Association, the professional body for Norwegian medical practitioners.
Professor Rodge conducts annual training of pathologists in Turkey
Professor Rogde was previously scheduled to observe the autopsy
on Yohance Douglas carried out by the state pathology service,
in order to measure the conduct of the autopsy against the principles
embodied in the United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention
and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions
(New York 1991). Although the authorities granted permission for
independent observers to be present, the autopsy took place on
5 March without observers.
As a delegate working on behalf of Amnesty International, Professor
Rogde is required to maintain confidentiality in respect of information
gained and will not undertake any broadcasting or writing commitment
related to the autopsy for the duration of her stay in Guyana.
She will report directly to the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International in London.
Any press enquiries should be directed to Amnesty
International's International Secretariat, on: +44 207 413 5566
or Olivia Streater and Pier Bannister on +1 876 929 9000
The above-mentioned principles state, inter alia, that investigations
of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions
shall include an adequate autopsy, as well as collection and analysis
of all physical and documentary evidence and statements from witnesses.
The body of the deceased person shall not be disposed of until
an adequate autopsy is conducted by a physician, who shall, if
possible, be an expert in forensic pathology. The autopsy report
must describe any and all injuries to the deceased including any
evidence of torture. Autopsy reports should attempt to establish
the identity of the deceased and the cause, manner, time and place
Yohance Douglas, an 18 year-old architecture student, was killed
on 1 March 2003 in Georgetown in disputed circumstances. Initial
police reports indicated that the shooting had occurred during
a confrontation. Subsequent police reports suggested that he was
fatally shot during an attempt to intercept the car in which he
was travelling. Witnesses however allege that plain clothes police
officers opened fire without provocation on the car. Two fellow
passengers in the car were shot and injured, one of them seriously.
The killing of Yohance Douglas has provoked protest and calls
for reform from many people and organisations in Guyana, including
the Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, the Guyana Human Rights Association, Guyana Public Service
Union (GPSU), the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church Community
of North Ruimveldt, the People’s National Party (Reform),
the People’s Progressive Party, ROAR, the University of
Guyana Students Society and students and lecturers from the University
of Guyana and teachers.
AI Index: AMR 35/005/2003 (Public)
News Service No: 052
GPSU STATEMENT OF THE BRUTAL SHOOTING OF UG STUDENTS BY THE POLICE
The apparent assassination of Yohance Douglas
and the seriously wounding of Ronson Grey by members of the Police
Force, makes it extremely difficult for one to believe that the
extra judicial killing of young black men does not have the sanction
of the administration.
There seems to be a belief held by members of our police force
that any young man driving a motor vehicle is a criminal and the
way to deal with criminals is to hunt them down, and shoot them
like dogs. It seems that a wanted poster has been circulated among
the ranks of the Guyana Police Force which reads:
DEAD OR ALIVE (PREFERABLE DEAD)
ALL YOUNG BLACK MEN DRIVING A MOTOR CAR
An interesting comment was made on channel 28, Evening News on
Monday night in reference to the shooting of the young men, that
it was dangerous for a black man to be living in Guyana at this
time. The comment was made by a former member of the judiciary
who significantly was not Black. That comment should obviously
raise the eyebrows of those members of our cabinet who seem to
be oblivious or insensitive to the slaughter of young black men
by members of our police force.
Notwithstanding that, we cannot overlook the recent killings of
policemen by the criminal elements of our society. Nevertheless,
such incident can in no way justify our policemen utilizing the
methods of the criminal in their efforts to curb the unprecedented
high level of criminal activity now prevalent in our society.
One should not overlook, however, that the gunning down of our
policemen, may well be due to a brief amongst the criminal element,
that our policemen are out to kill them, having tried, convicted
and sentenced them to death. So in turn, the criminal must kill
those who are out to kill them. The history of crime fighting
informs us that the more brutal the police, the more vicious the
It is the firm opinion of the Guyana Public Service Union that
a halt must be made to the killings of our people by the police
outside of the parameters of the law. Efficient measures must
be introduced to apprehend suspected criminals and bring them
before the Courts. Unfortunately, the image of our police force
has been seriously tarnished and no effort must be speared to
change that image.
The killing of Yohance Douglas must not go unpunished. Our union
has been calling for an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate
the functioning of the Police Force for the longest while. We
recall the shooting of our members in May 1999 at John Fernandes
Wharf and the savage beating of nurses at the Georgetown Hospital
gate, all by those who had sworn to protect and uphold the law,
also during our strike in 1999.
We call for
1. The immediate removal of the Minister of Home Affairs and the
acting Commissioner of Police.
2. The appointment of a Commission of Inquiry headed by a member
of the Judiciary from one of our sister CARICOM states.
3. An independent Prosecutor, agreed on by the Government, the
Opposition and the Bar Association, to prosecute those charged
with the unlawful killing of Yohance Douglas and the wounding
of others on that tragic morning of Saturday 1st March 2003.
Guyana Public Service Union, March 5th, 2003.