Police to be legally empowered to take DNA samples from suspects; carry non-lethal weapons

Last Updated on Monday, 6 December 2021, 17:08 by Denis Chabrol

Guyana Police Force investigators will soon be able to take DNA samples from suspects who have been arrested, according to a proposed amendment to the Police Act.

“The effect of this amendment is that in addition to measurements, photographs and fingerprint impressions, a member of the force can take and record DNA information of a person  in lawful custody for the purpose of identification,” states the explanatory memorandum of the Police Amendment Bill.

The draft law is to be debated on Monday December 13.

Under the hand of the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, the amendment states that anyone is deemed lawfully detained at any police station in connection in connection with the commission of any crime or offence.

The Police Act is also being amended to allow police to legally carry “less lethal weapons” such as nightsticks, batons and clubs, chemical irritants, conducted electrical weapons, , kinetic impact projectiles and water cannons. The Bill states that the aim is to reduce the number of civilians being killed by police.

“The use of these arms facilitates less lethal confrontational measures by law enforcement in an effort to reduce fatalities,” the explanatory memorandum states.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration and the Guyana Police Force have been heavily criticised for extra-judicial killings of  civilians during efforts to arrest them. So far, at least three persons have been shot and killed by police.