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…Opposition says GPF, Gov’t need to do more
By Lisa Hamilton
It has been 108 days since the mutilated bodies of teenagers Isaiah and Joel Henry were found in the Cotton Tree backdam and justice has not yet been served.
At Wednesday’s 14th sitting of the National Assembly the Opposition is expected to debate a motion filed back in November which calls on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to “expedite the investigations” and the Government to spare no efforts to bring to justice.
Ahead of the debate, the mothers of Joel and Isaiah, Gail Johnson and Patricia Henry (respectively) said that they feel let down by President Irfaan Ali who promised in September that he would “work day and night to get to the bottom of what happened to those teens”.
Ali had also put his confidence in the GPF stating in September: “The Police has also updated me on the progress of their investigation and they have assured that they will leave no stone unturned in ensuring justice for Joel and Isaiah is achieved, professionally.”
Gail Johnson said that she feels hurt by the seemingly lethargic manner in which the investigations are proceeding. She called on the President to stick to his promise.
“I did not expect this from Mr. Ali. Which in, I told him that he said he’s the ‘father for the nation’ and I expect better from him…I told him I am very much ashamed of him and I am not going to leave my story undone, the only way is if my eyes close. I need justice for my son, for Isaiah and Joel, both of them, because they are not cows neither pigs,” she said during the brief press conference.
Similarly, Patricia Henry added: “I want justice for my son. He was just 16 and his birthday was November 5, he would have been 17…Mr. President promised us that he would leave no stone unturned and we’re not seeing him doing it. I would like justice for my son…they take my best.”
Both the families of the Henry boys and the Opposition have expressed a lack of confidence in the abilities of the Force, given their experiences over the past three months.
“These motions today are meant to establish that, very clearly, that what has been done is inadequate and to the extent that they have no one in the lockups up to now, it is a sad day, it is a travesty,” Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon said during a brief press conference prior to the debates.
He added: “There has not been an efficient, professional investigation done and we require additional help which must come from abroad and we cannot wait forever for that to happen. The families are grieving and their grief is shared by not only the community but all Guyanese.”
Initially, the President had relied on the assistance of the Regional Security System (RSS) which came to the country weeks after the murders took place. They were also expected to help solve the murder of Haresh Singh, another teen who was found murdered not far from his home after the discovery of Isaiah and Joel.
However, the RSS came up empty-handed but pointed out that the GPF needed to do “additional work”. DNA samples taken from the teens were also sent to St. Lucia for cross-matching but did not return to Guyana matching any of the suspects who were previously in police custody.
Subsequently, about two months ago, the police boasted “new leads” in the murders but no update has since come from the Force or the Ministry of Home Affairs. Instead, a GY$3M reward was offered on November 3, 2020 by the GPF to anyone with information about the murders. With no takers over a month later, the reward was republished on December 19, 2020.
Harmon stressed: “The perpetrators of this injustice must be found. That’s an absolute necessity and we will not rest until this occurs. If it means that the investigation that is done by the Guyana Police Force is inadequate we must say that; if they are incompetent, we must say that and, at this point in time, it seems to me that whatever investigation they’ve done – the Guyana Police Force and the Regional Security System that [President] Irfaan Ali said was going to assist them – both efforts have proven not to be able to take us any closer.”
The media has already reported that the Guyana Human Rights Association’s (GHRAs) efforts to bring renowned Argentine forensic expert, Dr. Luis Fondebrider were seemingly fruitless as the expert left the country without the necessary documents from the GPF or Ministry of Foreign Affairs being told that its provision must first be “discussed”.
“I told them I am a scientist, I am not about politics,” the expert said when pressed by the media on December 15, the day before he left the country. “I told them very clearly what I need. I need documents of the work at the crime scene, I need to see pictures, maps, the screenshots, to which labs they sent the samples taken from the bodies and from the scene. I need to see the autopsy report, how long [ago] they took the autopsy, the condition of the mortuary, only with that information I can really analyze and give an opinion and advise.”