PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 28 August 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia
• The delay in appointing a Commissioner of Police for more than two years, despite the deteriorating crime and security situation, including three massacres, at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek, could only be construed, at best, as gross misconduct, and, at worst, impeachable Presidential conduct;
• It is appropriate to remind the Jagdeo Administration that torture is not only in violation of the Guyana Constitution but also of the various international agreements to which Guyana is a signatory, such as the UN and the OAS Conventions Against Torture;
• The PNCR does not hesitate to reiterate its publicly stated demand, even at this late hour, for an independent inquiry into the torturing and killing of Edwin Niles;
• President Jagdeo, at his recent Press Conference, virtually attacked the Auditor General for submitting an honest account of the financial statement of the country. This cannot go unanswered. In particular, the PNCR wishes to take issue with the President’s notion that not placing the Lotto proceeds into the Consolidated Fund is a “technical matter” and not a violation of Article 216 of the Constitution.
THE NON APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONER OF POLICE BY THE PRESIDENT FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS IS GROSS MISCONDUCT:
President Jagdeo’s recent pronouncements, on the issue of the appointment of a substantive Commissioner of Police, revealed that he is obviously engaged in another of his political games to divert attention from either his Presidential incompetence, if not misconduct, or his lack of concern or seriousness over the security situation in the country.
After two years of neglecting his constitutional duty to appoint a Police Commissioner, he is now seeking to create a storm in a teacup over the insistence, by the Leader of the Opposition that he should observe the spirit and letter of the Constitution which he undertook to uphold when he took his oath of Office. President Jagdeo has not succeeded in fooling anyone. Instead, he has further entangled himself in the web of deceit that he is trying to weave.
The Kaieteur News, of 22 August 2008, under the caption, “Corbin ‘nitpicking’ over Greene’s appointment”, Jagdeo admitted that:
“… in his previous meeting with Corbin which was an exploratory meeting on the issue, the PNCR leader did not object to the appointment of Green as Commissioner of Police.
Jagdeo said that he does not need the approval of Corbin to appoint Green neither will he change his mind.”
In the next sentence, the President converts the “exploratory meeting” into a “consultation” by suggesting that, “there was no need for further consultations”.
The Constitution clearly defines what is meant by consultation:
Title 10: Interpretation: Article 232 (1) states:
“In this Constitution except as otherwise provided or required by the context-
“consultation” or “meaningful consultation” means the person or entity responsible for seeking consultation shall-
“(a) Identify the persons or entities to be consulted and specify to them in writing the subject of the consultation and an intended date for the decision on the subject of consultation;
(b)Ensure that each person or entity to be consulted is afforded a reasonable opportunity to express a considered opinion on the subject of the consultation; and
(c)Cause to be prepared and archived a written record of the consultation and circulate the decision or entities consulted;”
From the above, it is obvious that the President requires no legal expert to explain his obligations under the Constitution with respect to the requirement of consultation.
Article 211(1) of the Constitution states:
“The Commissioner of Police and every Deputy Commissioner of Police shall be appointed by the President acting after meaningful consultations with the Leader of the Opposition and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission.”
No one, including the President, can choose to ignore the requirements of the Constitution, as President Jagdeo so frequently does, at his whims and fancies. His non observation of the above requirements can only be interpreted in the context of his other flagrant violations in the past, including his appointment of the Integrity Commission without consultation and his extension of the life of the Ethnic Relations Commission in violation of the Constitution.
The facts of the matter are that, at the request of President Jagdeo, the Leader of the Opposition agreed to a meeting, on 17 June 2008, with him, at the Office of the President, New Garden Street, Georgetown. Mr. E Lance Carberry, MP, PNCR’s Chief Whip and the Official Record Keeper on Consultation for the Leader of the Opposition, as is customary, accompanied Mr. Corbin. During that meeting, at which several matters of concern to the PNCR were raised, the President informally raised with the Leader of the Opposition his intention to appoint a substantive Commissioner of Police and indicated that his nominee was the incumbent, Acting Commissioner, Mr. Henry Greene.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out to the President that, unlike the position of Chancellor, only consultation was required and not agreement for such an appointment. He sought clarification on some public concerns from the President. The President provided some explanations. Before the conclusion of that meeting, the President queried whether he could treat such informal conversation as a consultation.
The Leader of the Opposition was very specific, and this is recorded in the notes of that meeting, that he required the provisions of the Constitution to be strictly observed. He further explained his reasons, among them being, the failure of the President to follow those provisions when the Integrity Commission was appointed. He also reminded the President that the issue of the unconstitutionality of the Integrity Commission was still a matter awaiting the determination of the High Court.
The Leader of the Opposition made it clear, to the President, that he expected him to write formally as required by the Constitution.
It is, therefore, quite remarkable that the President could forget these discussions and choose to rely on his own, self serving “recollections”. Where is the Official record of the consultations as required by the Constitution, if, as the President claims, consultations were done? Has the President consulted the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and is the record of such consultation available? Has the Chairman of the Police Service Commission consulted the Police Service Commissioners and is such a record available?
It is instructive that the President considers the insistence of the Leader of the Opposition, on the strict observance of the Constitution, as “nitpicking and playing petty politics”.
It helps the Guyanese people to understand the mind-set of the President of Guyana and explains why there has been such scant regard for the laws of Guyana, by the Jagdeo regime. The Leader of the Opposition has made it pellucid, however, that he would not be a participant in any activity intended to disregard and subvert the provisions of the Constitution.
President Jagdeo is right when he stated that, “he does not need the approval of Corbin to appoint Greene neither will he change his mind” He is only required to consult but is not forced to accept the advice. It follows that, President Jagdeo must explain why he waited for two years, after Commissioner Felix demitted Office, before he initiated his first action with the Leader of the Opposition, on 17 June 2008. Why did he not appoint a substantive Commissioner for two years?
Nevertheless, assuming that President Jagdeo’s recollection is correct, he must still answer the question, why, more than two months after that alleged, “consultation”, he did not appoint Mr. Green, when he could have done so since 18 June 2008.
The delay in appointing a Commissioner of Police for more than two years, despite the deteriorating crime and security situation, including three massacres, at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek, could only be construed, at best, as gross misconduct, and, at worst, impeachable Presidential conduct.
The PNCR, therefore, calls upon President Jagdeo to explain, to the Nation, his gross misconduct. If the President fails to provide a plausible explanation, Guyanese may well believe the well-circulated rumours, which suggest that,”there is more in the mortar than in the pestle”.
Is it that the President was, for some unpublicized reason, prevented from appointing Henry Green as Commissioner of Police before? Is he serious about appointing him now? Alternatively, is he looking for a scapegoat to find a reason not to appoint him, while giving the public and Henry Green the impression he wants to do so.
With all the powers, which the President professes to have, it is surely unimaginable that he would pretend to be so impotent, in the appointment of a Substantive Commissioner of Police, for more than two years.
It is time that the President is made to account for his neglectful behaviour.
In this picture is the panel for the Press Conference which was held in the Media Centre at Congress Place on August 28, 2008. From left, Ms. Volda Lawrence, M.P., PNCR Human Services Director and member of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Basil Williams, M.P. and Vice-Chairman of the Party and Mr. Ronald Austin, Head of the Party’s Public Relations Department
THE TORTURE REPORT MUST BE PUBLISHED:
The PNCR has repeatedly called for the publication of the report of torture in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and torture methods used by the ranks of the Guyana Police Force. A report on torture in the GDF was promised by the President and the Chief of Staff, while the Minister of Home Affairs undertook to investigate the use of torture by ranks of the Guyana Police Force.
The GDF has reported publicly that they have handed in their report but its contents have not seen the light of day.
The PNCR repeats what it knows: The report fingers two GDF officers from the Military Investigation Department, a Lieutenant and a Captain, both of whom are well known to be responsive to instructions from the Office of the President. The Jagdeo Administration is, therefore, caught in a dilemma as to how it could release the report and escape the consequences of its contents.
In the meantime, the torture committed by ranks of the Police Force on David Zammett remains uninvestigated. The question of torture by security forces in Guyana has been under scrutiny for over a year and the Government is yet to bring closure to this matter.
Guyana has, therefore, acquired a reputation, in the English speaking Caribbean, for engaging in such brutal acts as torture. The country has, accordingly, become the object of attention and scrutiny by international organisations and Governments.
In seeming to encourage torture to be used, by the security forces, the Jagdeo Administration is culpable for allowing this unsavoury practice to take root in the security forces. The allegation of torture, by the GDF, of two young Amerindian boys from the North West District testifies to this.
It is appropriate to remind the Jagdeo Administration that torture is not only in violation of the Guyana Constitution but also of the various international agreements to which Guyana is a signatory, such as the UN and the OAS Conventions Against Torture. These Conventions also stipulate that the victims of torture are entitled to compensation.
The refusal of the Jagdeo Administration to root out torture, as a practice among elements of its security forces, borders on the criminal and will have far reaching consequences for the future of this country.
It has now become routine for this Administration to trample on the human rights of our citizens and yet have the audacity to claim that it believes in democracy.
THE LACK OF ACTION ON THE DEATH OF EDWIN NILES IS SCANDALOUS:
It is nothing short of barbaric, and the reflection of the lack of any moral compass, on the part of the Jagdeo Administration, that, after more than a month, no one has been punished for the brutal torturing and killing of Edwin Niles in the Georgetown Prisons.
As usual, the platitude that an investigation is being undertaken has been offered to a cynical public. Not surprisingly, the Jagdeo Administration has not gone beyond this position
Here is another matter that is likely to be a blot on this country, as the rest of the Region and the world look on while Guyana descends into a morass of incompetence, corruption, and now torture.
Like David Zammett, Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner, Edwin Niles’ human rights were violated by the Jagdeo Administration and that Administration seems unconcerned about taking the necessary measures to correct this attack upon our Constitution.
The PNCR does not hesitate to reiterate its publicly stated demand, even at this late hour, for an independent inquiry into the torturing and killing of Edwin Niles.
THE PROCEEDS OF THE LOTTO FUNDS MUST BE PLACED IN THE CONSOLIDATED FUND:
The PNCR has resisted the temptation to comment on the manner in which Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo has diminished the Presidency. Attacking reporters and showing disrespect for such an important personality, as Mr. Yesu Persaud, are hardly calculated to improve the image and standing of the Presidency in the eyes of the Guyanese public.
President Jagdeo, at his recent Press Conference, virtually attacked the Auditor General for submitting an honest account of the financial statement of the country. This cannot go unanswered. In particular, the PNCR wishes to take issue with the President’s notion that not placing the Lotto proceeds into the Consolidated Fund is a “technical matter” and not a violation of Article 216 of the Constitution.
The PNCR enters a most profound disagreement with Bharrat Jagdeo and reaffirms its position that the proceeds of the Lotto must be placed in the Consolidated Fund, in accordance with the law. In this regard, the Party reinforces the position of its Chairman, as articulated at the Press Conference, held on 21 August 2008, that: “In open and unashamed violation of Article 216 of the Guyana Constitution this money has not been paid into the Consolidated Fund.”
People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Thursday 28 August 2008.
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