PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 13 December 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR wishes to extend congratulations to Ms. Dionne Frank for graduating as the Best Student at the 41st University of Guyana Convocation, which was held on 8 December 2007;
• The cashiering of the entire reserve of the army, at a time when Guyana needs to strengthen its military, in view of the evidently serious border and narco-trafficking challenges, suggest that the reaction to the disappearance of the AK-47 is not proportionate to the incident which has occurred;
• As the Government continues to dither over mounting an independent investigation into the use of torture by the security forces, dramatic evidence has surfaced, once again, which reinforces the public view that the use of torture is being sponsored, by this PPP/C Administration, as an instrument of policy in its, so called, “new methods” of fighting crime;
• The PNCR reiterates its call that an inquest must be held into the death of Donna Herod;
• The PNCR is convinced that, if Mr. Khurchid Sattaur takes his duties seriously, he would begin the audit of all business suspected of being involved in, or funded by the proceeds of, drug trafficking;
• If the, so far, unresponsive Jagdeo PPP/C regime does not act with dispatch, it would be a foregone conclusion that the visitation of gloom, caused by the upwardly spiralling cost of living, along with the other woes which the regime has visited on the people of Guyana, will steal the joys of Christmas from the average Guyanese.

PNCR EXTENDS CONGRATULATIONS TO DIONNE FRANK:

The PNCR wishes to extend congratulations to Ms. Dionne Frank for graduating as the Best Student at the 41st University of Guyana Convocation, which was held on 8 December 2007.

Ms. Frank has before her the prospect of a rewarding and fulfilling career in Social Work. The PNCR, therefore, wishes her every success in her future endeavours.

PPP/C POLICY OF DESTABILISING ARMY:

The historical suspicion and animosity between the army and the PPP/C has surfaced again. The recent policy of purging the army of its reserves is a reflection of that suspicion and animosity.

While any rational human being can understand the need to take adequate and prudent measures to recover the lost AK-47, what is difficult to understand is the extreme measures taken, which could further unsettle the relationship between the civilian authority and the military.

The cashiering of the entire reserve of the army, at a time when Guyana needs to strengthen its military, in view of the evidently serious border and narco-trafficking challenges, suggest that the reaction to the disappearance of the AK-47 is not proportionate to the incident which has occurred.

The PNCR had reason before to comment on the possible destabilizing of the military arm of the state, when four (4) senior officers were superseded, in the recent shake up of the army hierarchy. Clearly that action was not a solution to the problems facing the military.

The Party does not want to come to any hasty conclusion, but it does appear that some senior officers may be allowing themselves to be perceived as the willing instruments of the corrupt and compromised political elite.

The Guyana Defence Force has nurtured a proud tradition of being a highly professional and independent constitutional arm of the state. The new military hierarchy needs to be reminded that they have a constitutional duty, to all of the people of Guyana, to do nothing to undermine or diminish that well earned and deserved reputation.

TORTURE CONTINUES IN GUYANA:

Despite denials from the politicians and senior members of the security forces, there is clear evidence that torture has become a policy of this Jagdeo PPP/C regime.

The People’s National Congress Reform has previously commented on the torture visited on Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones. The Party has also found it necessary to bring under scrutiny the horrible infliction of pain on David Zammett. The condition of Zammett, on his appearance in court, prompted Judge Jainarayan Singh to order a medical report on his condition. The PNCR is on record as calling for the publication of that report. Our legitimate requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The Party, therefore, once again, demand that, if, as the Minister of Home Affairs, and the rest of the Jagdeo regime, claims that they have nothing to hide, they should immediately cause that medical report to be published.

In response to the PNCR’s claim that torture has become the policy of the PPP/C, there were denials and then a promise that an investigation would be launched into the torture of Patrick Sumner, Victor Jones and David Zammett. But this turned out to be yet another of a long and growing list of unfulfilled promises by the Jagdeo PPP/C regime.

As the Government continues to dither over mounting an independent investigation into the use of torture by the security forces, dramatic evidence has surfaced, once again, which reinforces the public view that the use of torture is being sponsored, by this PPP/C Administration, as an instrument of policy in its, so called, “new methods” of fighting crime.

The picture of the badly bruised body of Terrence McKenzie, which appeared in the media recently should preclude any denial or claim to innocence by the PPP/C Administration and the security forces.

The PNCR wishes to remind the PPP/C that it has the responsibility, under the Constitution of Guyana and the relevant Conventions of the OAS and the United Nations, which it is a signatory to, not to allow or encourage the use of torture, for any reason, by the security forces or any other arm of the state.

THE INQUEST INTO DONNA HEROD’S DEATH MUST BE HELD:

It is a scandal that, more than four (4) months after Donna Herod’s life was snuffed out by a bullet from elements of the security forces, no inquest has been held into her death.

As has now become its normal modus operandi, the PPP/C Administration has been long on promises and short on action. The PNCR, therefore, reiterates its call that an inquest must be held into the death of Donna Herod.

PPP/C MUST AUDIT BUSINESSES FUNDED BY DRUGS:

Every Guyanese, it appears, except the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority and the rest of the President’s merry band of senior officials, knows that many businesses in Guyana are being sustained by the drug industry. The Party, therefore, calls upon this high official to take stock of this situation, given the mountain of evidence that enormous amount of drug money is sloshing through the economy and sustaining enterprises spawned by organised crime.

The PNCR is convinced that, if Mr. Khurchid Sattaur takes his duties seriously, he would begin the audit of all business suspected of being involved in, or funded by the proceeds of, drug trafficking. An audit of such businesses would be a major step in the fight against drugs, and contribute to removing the public perception that the Jagdeo PPP/C regime is ambivalent and hesitant to confront certain businesses and individuals long suspected of being involved in international narco-trafficking.

The PNCR calls for such audits to be undertaken, in the public interest, as a matter of urgency.

The Commissioner General of the GRA should, of course, feel reinforced by the existing plethora of anti money laundering and anti narcotics legislation, ritually rushed through the National Assembly, but, as yet, remaining dormant, since Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo became President of the Republic. It is also true that the rhetoric and propaganda, which surrounded the launching of the National Drug Strategy, like many similar initiatives by this regime, has not been matched by any visible action against any of the known and prominent drug barons, who have brazenly been flaunting their ill begotten riches for all, but President Jagdeo and his masquerading PPP/C regime, to see.

THE OPPRESIVE BURDEN OF THE RISING COST OF LIVING THREATENS CHRISTMAS:

This should be a season of goodwill and cheer. Guyanese should be a happy comfortable, relaxed and fulfilled people, at this time. But this is not so simple, because as they seek to prepare for Christmas, they are being hammered by high prices for commodities, energy and water.

In fact, the most notable feature, of life in Guyana today, is the rising cost of living. The PPP/C regime would like us all to believe that, only action at the level of Caricom, can help. The PNCR is of the view that such collective action, at the level of Caricom, while good in itself, would inevitably be of a long term nature. Therefore, such initiatives will not provide the immediate relief which, the already battered and bruised Guyanese people require.

What is needed now is for the Government to be proactive, by using those fiscal instruments over which it has some control, for example, reducing the onerous 16% VAT rate to , say, 8%. This would be a source of immediate relief for the visibly suffering Guyanese people. In addition, the Jagdeo regime needs to honour its commitment to overhaul the system of taxation, by taking immediate steps to reduce the burden of Income tax being borne by the growing army of the working Guyanese poor.

If the, so far, unresponsive Jagdeo PPP/C regime does not act with dispatch, it would be a foregone conclusion that the visitation of gloom, caused by the upwardly spiralling cost of living, along with the other woes which the regime has visited on the people of Guyana, will steal the joys of Christmas from the average Guyanese.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday 13 December 2007