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Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon has accused Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn and the Government of Guyana, of attempting to hide the incompetence of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in solving the murders of West Coast Berbice (WCB) teens Joel and Isaiah Henry and Haresh Singh by refusing international assistance.
At a press conference on Friday, Harmon was asked his thoughts on the lack of Government support shown to Argentine Forensic expert, Dr. Luis Fondebrider, who visited Guyana to assess the level of help the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF) could render to the country. His travel was facilitated by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA).
Dr. Fondebrider requested 20 documents from the GPF but was told his request would be “discussed”. He has since returned to Argentina.
“I want to feel that the Minister of Home Affairs… he’s trying to shield the incompetence by the Criminal Investigation Department or that there is something beyond the Minister of Home Affairs or even beyond the police’s competence that the Minister wants to hide. I can only come to that conclusion based on his own statements,” Harmon said.
The statements Harmon referenced were made by Benn in November. On one occasion, Benn pressed by the media about the lack of support from the Government to bring the EAAF to Guyana said that the Government had a preference for other experts.
He had referenced the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the United States and experts in the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada.
Three months have passed since teens’ murders and the GPF has made no headway towards bringing closure to the cases while the Government, from all indication, has not solicited the assistance of their preferred experts.
Harmon said that it is understood that the Argentine Forensic experts possess the technology and techniques needed to solve the murders.
Weeks after the mutilated bodies of Isaiah and Joel Henry were found as well as the body of Haresh Singh, the Government had brought in a team from the Regional Security System (RSS) which was also unsuccessful in solving the crimes. The family has since called for greater efforts.
“The Guyana Police Force did not provide them with the kind of help they needed to take the investigation further and the RSS investigators felt that they were on a ‘waste-of-time’ mission. I believe so myself because they seem to have achieved nothing and they left in the same way,” Harmon said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that it was President Irfaan Ali who vowed that the State would spare no efforts to solve the murders of the three teens. “I will work day and night to get to the bottom of what happened to those teens,” the President told the three families during a visit in September 2020.
However, Harmon contended Benn and the Government need to do more.
He said: “You have the connection but you’re not using it. You’re not connecting, Mr. Benn you’re not connecting. The GHRA, as civil society, has sought to help you to make that connection and you’re refusing it because you and the PPP regime must have something to hide in what is taking place. Any normal, right-thinking Minister would have been happy to receive this kind of help.”
Meanwhile, Gail Johnson, mother of the late Joel Henry, said that she is surprised and confused by the actions of the GPF and Government.
She said the refusal to facilitate the provision of the documents requested by Dr. Fondebrider has left her with many unanswered questions.
“If they say that they want help and help comes to them and they refuse help then something gone scampish…what I want is justice for my child,” she told Village Voice News in a recent interview.