Press Statement By The Peoples National Congress Reform To The Press Conference On Thursday August 8TH, 2002 Halls of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media and welcome to our weekly press conference.

The Office of Executive President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana is hallowed trust, to be worn with dignity solemnity and seriousness. When that Office is demeaned in any way, it reflects badly on all Guyanese, whatever their political persuasion. For that reason, the PNC/R wishes to draw attention to the frivolous way in which the President holds his Office. In that context, we wish to make several observations.

1. Since the President currently holds the office of Chairman of Caricom, the correct protocol is for the President to host consultation with his colleagues heads of government rather than for him to be traipsing around the region.
2. The media and official statement of the Jamaican government make it clear that the focus of the Jamaican government is a state visit by the President of Nigeria to celebrate Jamaica’s independence and that Mr. Jagdeo is a mere appendage and camp follower in that grand occasion.
3. There is no evidence that there is any negotiation of substance or discussions of importance to merit two trips to Jamaica in such a short space of time. The President’s agenda for Jamaica includes a wide range of superficial and lightweight occasions, which cannot justify the expense to the national treasury.
4. The President’s surreptitious skulking in and out of Guyana on successive visits to Jamaica has other implications. Given the rumours being peddled by the Government and the PPP/C and its mouthpieces that there was likelihood of a coup in Guyana, one has to consider seriously an imputation of cowardice on the holder of Guyana’s highest office. At a time when Guyana is wracked by crime waves and our economy is in steep decline, Guyana deserves a more engaged and determined national leader.
5. The fact that Mr. Jagdeo organized to miss the emancipation celebrations is instructive in view of his programme in Jamaica. We are not convinced that the participation of Mr. Jagdeo in the St Elizabeth Homecoming Association function was more significant at this time in our political calendar than the Emancipation functions taking place in Guyana.

The Observer Newspaper in its editorial today, Thursday 9th commented on Mr. Jagdeo’s obscurity and lack of distinction compared with President Obasanjo and suggests that the feasonoing behind invitation to Mr. Jagdeo from the Jamaican Government appears obscure. They suggest however that this was an attempt to boost Mr. Jagdeo’s profile in the region and signal support for the PPP/C government. We find this opinion instructive and wish to advise the PPP/C that this junket does not in anyway does not remove their responsibility to find solutions to the nations pressing problems nor will it save us from the consequences of failure.

The PNC/R notes with concern the recent statements made by the PPP/C regime about a raft of proposed laws intended to deal with the overwhelming crime situation. Our concern is born out of a sense of helplessness being displayed by the regime. The nation has been regaled with statements about “Operation Tourniquet”, financing for the Police Force and capacity building, and further emphasis on community policing, none of which seem to have borne much fruit or to have brought us any sense of comfort or security. Indeed, things seem to be getting worse. Now we are told that laws are being drafted to address among other things, the presence of deportees in the country.

On the face of it, these proposed laws appear to be both draconian and unconstitutional. The major issue to be addressed is whether the state can restrict the rights and freedoms of a citizen of Guyana for crimes committed in a foreign jurisdiction and for which the offender has already paid his debt to society. Any law, which seeks to infringe or circumscribe the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution, should be rejected. For the regime to simply say that no citizen’s rights or freedom enshrined in the Constitution would be infringed, does not make right what is patently wrong.

The solution to the deportee problem is not to twice punish the offender but to address it at the source. There must be a strong national and regional position on the manner of regulating the dumping of sophisticated criminals into a country which is in no way responsible for sins committed elsewhere. This regime has displayed weakness and incompetence in dealing with the United States, Canada and other jurisdictions and has allowed it to be ridden roughshod. The American authorities for example are well aware of the pervasive corruption and criminality present in the PPP/C regime and this is what is now being used as a diplomatic lever to the detriment of our security and crime situation in Guyana. We all suffer as a result of PPP/C incompetence and lawlessness.

The PNC/R has long stated that the answer to the suffocating crime wave is to have national dialogue and consensus on the issue. The PPP/C pretends to be in control whilst the criminals continue to rule the roost. This country is quickly disintegrating and the criminal situation is symptomatic of that disintegration. Despite the false sense of hope the PPP/C seeks to present, crime continues to spiral uncontrollably to a point where even women are alleged to have taken to masking themselves and robbing hapless victims.

The PNC/R contends that an important element in the fight against crime is the elimination of atrocities, which demean the image of the Police Force and further saps the morale of the public. Public support for the force will be the foundation of any Police action, which turns the tide against crime not propaganda. In that light, we condemn the vicious torture of Keyon Mc Aulay by members of the Guyana Police Force who could from the evidence we have seen be best described as sadists. The battered body of Mc Aulay is a grim reminder of the atrocities continued to be committed unabated by some misguided members of the Guyana Police Force. Despite the pleadings of citizens of the nation the brutality continues. As a nation we must consider seriously the nature of the connection between Police atrocities and the outrages against and murder of innocent policemen and women. The Police Force must break the vicious circle of brutality and death for which Guyana is gaining international infamy.

The shameful violation of the constitutional rights of Keyon Mc Aulay is just one example of a dangerous trend that can only cause the further deterioration of the social fabric of our society. Recently, the PNC/R brought to the attention of the Nation the deliberate breach of the Constitutional rights of some of its leading members in Corentyne, Berbice, when the Police under various ruses detained, arrested and imprisoned them.

The unwarranted arrest on Thursday the 25th day of July 2002 of Colin Bynoe and his subsequent detention at the Central Police Station New Amsterdam by Policemen who knew his true identity under the pretext that they mistook him for Philip Bynoe would have been laughable if the matter did not result in such grave consequences.
Colin Bynoe is a public figure who served in the Parliament of Guyana as a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2001, a well known activist of the People’s National Congress, a member of several Community organizations in Berbice, a Regional Democratic Councillor of Region 6, East Berbice, a Teacher at the Port Mourant Community High School and also well known to members of the Police Force in Berbice.

The unlawful search of the homes and the subsequent arrest of MESSRS. WINSTON HOPE, LENOX ALLICOCK and BRENTNOL KING, all well-known activists of the PNC/R in Berbice, by a party of well-armed Policemen from the Guyana Police Force led by Inspector Leitch and their subsequent arrest, detention and imprisonment in the lock-ups at Albion Police Station on Friday the 26th day of July, is also part of the dangerous plot to harass and intimidate Political activists of the PNC/R and to manipulate the Guyana Police Force to fulfill the Political agenda of the PPP/C Government.

Like Colin Bynoe, Mr Winston Hope is a public figure, a Councilor of the Rose Hall Town Council; the Regional Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform of Region 6, East Berbice and a member of the Local Government Committee of the Regional Democratic Council of Region 6, East Berbice. Both Allicock and King are well-known activists and Community workers and have never been associated with any criminal activities. Their arrest can only be seen as part of a sinister political plot. Moreover, the denial of their rights to Counsel, the unlawful fingerprinting of these men and their incarceration without their ability to communicate with any one constitute serious violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by Articles 40, 139, 141 and 148 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

The PNC/R again condemns these flagrant violations of the fundamental rights of citizens. We are aware that all the above victims have put their faith in the judicial system and have commenced legal action as provided for in Article 153 of the Constitution. The PNC/R will be monitoring these developments.

The PNC/R has been reliably informed that on Sunday August 4, 2002 in the evening, following the funeral of Leroy Lowe, the Police Force in the Buxton area discharged live rounds at a group of boys who lit squibs on the roadway outside the Church of God. While we appreciate the need for firm law enforcement we believe that reckless action brings into sharp question the professionalism of the ranks sent on patrol of these areas. Responsible rules of engagement seem to have been totally disregarded by the Force and it is fortunate that this did not escalate into a more serious confrontation with loss of life. The PNC/R urges the Guyana Police Force to re-examine the professionalism if it hopes to gain the respect and support of all Guyanese.

We note that the PPP/C regime has sustained its harassment of private television stations in the form of threatening letters to media houses containing threats and allegations for which no substantial evidence is provided and for which the stations have had no opportunity to provide explanations or defense. It is clear that the government is bent on creating an opportunity for confrontation and instability by the orchestration of harassment of private media houses, which allow the Opposition Parties to present their views to the public. The PNC/R has had its programming refused by stations under pressure from the regime.

We will not sit idly by whilst this Nascimento plot which takes place even when the government has made no attempt to implement the basic and key decision of the Joint Committee that is to bring fairness and sanity to sate broadcasting can only bring about greater mistrust and endanger our country. We also note that the Interim Committee on Broadcasting has continued to disregard the essential elements of its mandate in terms of collaboration with private broadcasters. The Party will have to reconsider its support for the work of that Committee and to mobilize direct political support for the media houses under threat.

Plans for our upcoming Congress continue to go well. From all indications, delegates and observers will be present in full force and there is keen anticipation of the deliberation and debates of Congress. The physical arrangements including hospitality for delegates from hinterland regions and the preparation of the Congress venue are on schedule. As we have already indicated, the debate will focus on the restructuring of the Party’s operation and deriving plans and policies, which can move Guyana out of its current morass of incompetence and fear.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Thursday, August 08, 2002