Former Home Affairs Minister and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee has taken up issue with Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan who he says is going after “torture cop” Narine Lall at all cost regardless of procedure.
Rohee was the presiding minister at the time when 14-year-old Twyon Thomas had his private parts severely burnt while being interrogated by police officers at the Leonora Police Station in 2009.
Ramjattan coincidently, was also the teen’s Attorney-at –law when he sought compensation from the State.
The three officers, then police Sergeant Narine Lall, Constable Mohanram Dolai and Corporal Oswald Foo had the court matter dismissed because witnesses failed to turn up. Thomas was however awarded some $6.5m compensation.
Ramjattan was vocal in his calls to have the police officers dismissed, but instead they were promoted under the PPP government. Soon after the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government came into place, Dolai was sent packing by Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud who was acting on Ramjattan’s orders. In signaling “zero tolerance” for rogue cops, he had noted that similar marching orders would go for Lall who turned Inspector.
At the PPP presser Monday 31, August, Rohee said Ramjattan does not appear to have respect for procedures, since he disregarded police service regulations and personally contacted police personal; giving them instructions.
“He writes a letter to the secretary of the Police Service Commission- which he ought not to do. No member of the executive can or ought not to write any letter to the secretary of the Police Service Commission telling him what he would like to have done.”
“It is improper and in fact, unconstitutional.” Rohee continued that, “It seems as though, he has adopted, irrespective of who says what- that’s Ramjattan, I know him- irrespective of who says what I am going after this man.”
Rohee said while, the minister is free to go after anyone, he must, “do so in accordance to the law and the Constitution.” He said the Security Minister seems wanting to get rid of the police officer, “at the expense of trampling on a constitutional body…”
When questioned Rohee said, he was not against Ramjattan wanting the officer out of the force since the PPP has also spoken against torture. However, the PPP administration seemed deaf when human rights agencies, local and international and other stakeholders called for action against the officers who had hurt the minor.
President David Granger before and after he was sworn in was adamant about his stance against torture calling it an “international crime” where the culprit could be extradited from any country according to international law.
Rohee said that Ramjattan should be more procedural in his pursuit of the policeman since the court dismissed the case against the officers and in Lall’s case, the PSC was dealing with it. The former Home Affairs Minister refused to say however whether the party would support Lall’s dismissal if done procedurally correct.