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The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) said that it has approached the Ministries of Home Affairs and Human Services seeking their joint financial support to bring a team of Forensic Pathologists from Argentina to assist the Guyana Police Force resolve the West Coast Berbice murders.
A first round of letters requested the two ministries to share the cost of the initiative, a sum in the region of USD$40,000, GHRA said in a press release on Saturday. The rights body said that recently a second round proposed that the ministries fund 50% of the cost and the other 50% to be fund-raised publicly, co-ordinated by the GHRA and the law firm of the families, Hughes, Fields & Stoby. To date our letters and phone calls await an acknowledgement.
“In our opinion, every effort must be made to resolve these murders since they have the potential to lie like an explosive device to be activated by those who traffic in racial insecurity when politically convenient. The amount requested of the two ministries is not significantly more expensive than the G$3mn. currently being offered as a reward for information. While rewards may be an effective measure in some circumstances, we believe it is more likely to trigger mischief in the particular circumstances of this crime,” GHRA stated.
According to the GHRA a more judicious route would be for the Government to support the Guyana Police Force, which is particularly keen to have the Argentine Team come to Guyana. “In demonstrating its willingness to go the extra mile, even if at the end of the day the murders remain unresolved, the Government would be credited with having done everything technically possible. The political venom would have been extracted from the situation to the Government’s credit.”
According to the GHRA discussions with the Argentine Team revealed that on visits of this nature they frequently hold training sessions for local police and justice officials. Of particular interest also are sessions on femicide pathology – violent deaths of women and girls. “The GHRAs approach to the Ministry of Human Services was prompted by the belief that they would welcome building capacity in this area, particularly in view of the recent billion dollar donation from the UNDP/EU Spotlight programme to combat violence against women. The Argentine team was responsible for finding the body of Che Guevara in Bolivia years after his death.,” the release concluded.
At a news conference last week Tuesday family member of slain cousins, Isaiah and Joel Henry Colwyn Henry said that he had spoken with President Irfaan Ali directly and asked him about the offer made by the team but the President skirted the question to speak about other matters.
“We had a meeting with the President two Fridays ago and we raised the topic with him and he said that he reached out to CARICOM because CARICOM is who reached out to them. I asked he, we asked he. He didn’t give we a positive answer but he said they reached out to CARICOM because CARICOM is who reached out to them,” Colwyn said.
On the other hand, attorney representing the families of the Henry boys, Nigel Hughes said that it is clear that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Regional Security System (RSS) –which was hired by the Government– do not have the capacity to solve the crimes. In fact, he noted that it was after the announcement of the said press conference that the GPF put out a notice offering a $3,000,000 reward for anyone with information on the murders of the Henry boys and Haresh Singh.
Mere days prior, President Irfaan Ali, when pressed by reporters for an update had told them that the RSS was pleased with the work of the GPF. He gave the impression that the investigation was headed in a positive direction. “I have not seen a copy of it [the RSS report] but I have been briefed on the content of it and what I’ve been told is that the RSS did some work, they recommended some additional work to be done. But, in total, they were satisfied with the work the local police have been doing,” President Ali said.
However, in Hughes’ assessment: “If you brought five experts from the Caribbean to assist in an investigation and five experts could only conclude that the Guyana Police Force has the capacity to solve this crime and two months after the crime has been committed the Guyana Police Force is offering a reward because they have no evidence, I think that speaks both of the capacity of the Guyana Police Force and the capacity of the RSS.”
In comparison to the $3M being offered by the GPF, the Government would only have to pay little over that sum to secure the services of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF). Detailing the likely costs, Hughes stated that the team has a profession fee of USD$20,000; would require an additional $1,000 to cover the airline costs for the equipment they would bring; and would require coverage of travel, accommodation and food. Altogether, the attorney averages that it would cost the Government only GY$7M.