There were new reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects by police, who also shot dead two men in suspicious circumstances. At least four people were sentenced to death for murder and some 24 people were under sentence of death at the end of the year. No executions were carried out. In May Guyana ratified the (First) Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There were new reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects by police. Criminal suspects were reportedly beaten and held in inhumane conditions at Kitty police station, near Georgetown, the capital, in July. Also in July, Bissoon Sukhdeo, an employee of an East Bank Demerara sawmill, alleged that he was assaulted, threatened with a gun and immersed in the Demerara River by a party of attackers who claimed to be police officers, one of whom was in police uniform. He was taken to the local police station and charged with an earlier attack on a neighbouring firm with whom the sawmill was in dispute. In October more than 10 youths who had been arrested in connection with a murder investigation alleged that they were beaten with pieces of wood, punched, deprived of food and coerced by threats into signing statements while detained in Mahaica police station in Demerara-Mahaica province. A woman arrested with them alleged that she too was beaten and that two army officers threatened to rape her. In September Rickey Samaroo and Joseph "Dingo" Persaud were shot dead by police while allegedly attempting to rob the Licence Revenue Department in Georgetown. Initial police reports stated that the men were shot after one of them fired at the police. However, the men's relatives questioned the killings as Joseph Persaud was a key witness in a case brought against the police for the murder of another suspect, Michael Teekah, in 1988. Michael Teekah had been arrested with Joseph Persaud in May 1988 and allegedly died after he and Joseph Persaud were forcibly immersed in a canal by officers from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at Eve Leary police headquarters in Georgetown; both men were allegedly handcuffed, and had bags tied over their heads, when they were repeatedly immersed in the water. Before his death, Joseph Persaud had testified in a civil action brought against several officers accused of involvement in Michael Teekah's death. The case was due to resume hearing but was reportedly abandoned after Joseph Persaud's death. The Guyana Human Rights Association cited what they termed a "host of suspicious circumstances" surrounding Joseph Persaud's killing, including discrepancies between police accounts and relatives' reports that he had been shot in the mouth. Police were reported to be investigating the shootings. Following Joseph Persaud's death, a second witness to Michael Teekah's killing, George Bacchus, wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs, alleging that his life had been threatened by the officers involved. At least four people were sentenced to death for murder and some 24 people were under sentence of death at the end of the year. No executions were carried out. Five men awaiting trial since 1990 for treason, a capital offence, had the charges against them dropped in May. Three of the accused who were still in prison were released (see Amnesty International Reports 1993 and 1991). In December Amnesty International wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs urging that a full and impartial investigation be carried out into the shooting of Joseph Persaud and Ricky Samaroo. Amnesty International also expressed concern that a second witness had allegedly received death threats from officers involved in the killing of Michael Teekah (see above). Amnesty International urged that the government order a full, independent inquiry into the circumstances of Michael Teekah's death and that steps be taken to ensure the physical safety of witnesses in the case. Amnesty International also asked if inquiries had been conducted into alleged police involvement in the assault on Bissoon Sukhdeo and the allegations of ill-treatment of suspects at Mahaica police station. The organization reiterated its requests for information on earlier cases, including a number of cases in which unarmed suspects had been shot dead by the police in disputed circumstances (see Amnesty International Report 1993). In February the Ministry of Home Affairs responded to Amnesty International's inquiry about the alleged ill-treatment of Hardath Ramdass and the alleged rape of a woman by police in 1992 (see Amnesty International Report 1993), stating that it would look into the cases and that its findings would be communicated. However, no further information had been received from the government by the end of the year.

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