Last Updated on Sunday, 30 July 2023, 21:25 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has committed protect and promote human rights and bar soldiers from becoming aligned with groups that violate human rights, through the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Human Rights Initiative (HRI) and its accompanying Consensus Document.
The HRI was inked last week by GDF Chief-of-Staff Brigadier Omar Khan and SOUTHCOM’s Commander, US Army General Laura Richardson, making this South American nation the 13th in the region to become a partner.
“Under the Human Rights Framework and through membership in the HRI, the GDF formalizes its intent to implement the Consensus Document with support from SOUTHCOM’s Human Rights Office,” according to a joint statement by the US Embassy and the GDF.
American Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch said in her remarks at the closing of Exercise Tradewinds 2023 that the Human Rights Initiative was established in 1997 to bring together military, public security, government and civil society representatives from across the hemisphere with the aim of developing comprehensive and effective human rights programs for defense and security forces that focus on four areas- internal control, such as conducting investigations; sanctioning human rights offenders; prohibiting collaboration with
illegal groups that commit human rights violations.
The internal control includes conducting investigations, sanctioning human rights offenders and prohibiting collaboration with illegal groups that commit human rights violations.
Back in 2008, three GDF soldiers had alleged that they had been tortured by the defence force’s Military Criminal Investigations Department (MCID) during an interrogation about the disappearance of an AK-47 assault rifle.
Two years earlier in 2006, concerns had been raised about whether soldiers had allied themselves with heavily armed gunmen in Buxton and had supplied them with a number of the 30 AK-47 assault rifles and several handguns that had been stolen from an armoury at the GDF’s Camp Ayanganna headquarters.
The GDF Chief-of-Staff, in his remarks at the closing ceremony, stated that the GDF “has always been and continues to embrace human rights principles through its own values and standards.”
The GDF, police and civilian agencies stand to benefit significantly from SOUTHCOM’s human rights training based on international and domestic law, under the HRI.