PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 20 November 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia



• The PNCR, like all thinking members of the society, expected that all allegations of torture, of our citizens, by the GDF, would have been the subject of the investigation reported in the Torture Report;
• The PNCR has long believed, and articulated its views publicly, that there must be a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional and holistic approach to crime;
• The Jagdeo Administration has given notice that it will repossess the house lots of those citizens who have been unable to build on their lots;
• The continuing rise in the cost of living is having such a devastating and negative impact upon the Guyanese people that the Jagdeo Administration must consider putting in place a programme to cushion its continuous ruinous effects;
• The Leader of the Opposition and of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, is attending the 8th Annual Conference of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank which is jointly organized with the World Bank and hosted by the French National Assembly and the French Government.

JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TORTURE COVER-UP:

By any definition, including that under the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT), several Guyanese have been tortured by the security forces. Instead of accepting this fact and taking the right action to weed out those guilty of such nefarious practices from the security forces, the Jagdeo Administration has opted to cover-up and deceive the public, through their usual propaganda blitz.

Their attempted cover-up and targeted propaganda have been a resounding failure, because they cannot convince the Guyanese people that Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner, as well as the identified members of the security forces were not tortured. The evidence is persuasive and pervasive.

Whilst the People’s National Congress Reform is not surprised by the brazen and torturous exercises, of the Jagdeo Administration, to deny that torture was perpetrated by the security forces, the Party is astounded by the utterances of the Chief of Staff, Commodore Gary Best.
The Chief of Staff accused the Media of giving the security forces an unjustified bad name by juxtaposing the allegations of torture against Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner with that made by members of the security forces, since only the latter was the subject of the Torture Report by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). This is disingenuous, baffling and insulting to the intelligence of the Guyanese public. The PNCR, like all thinking members of the society, expected that all allegations of torture, of our citizens, by the GDF, would have been the subject of the investigation reported in the Torture Report.

It seems that the Chief of Staff is signalling that Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner were not tortured by the GDF. If that is the case, he is duty bound to tell the nation who tortured those individuals.

Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner have stated openly and publicly that they were handed over to the GDF by the Police. While they were in the custody of the GDF, they were taken to a camp along the Linden/Soesdyke Highway and brutally beaten and burnt, in an extended period of torture, by GDF torturers. They have exposed the gruesome physical evidence to corroborate this. Is the Chief of Staff claiming that they are lying or all of this was a figment of their imagination?

The PNCR, while focusing attention on the GDF Torture Report, also wishes to ensure that this does not obscure the fact that there are outstanding allegations of torture against elements of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Prison Authorities.

There is credible evidence that David Zammett was brutally tortured by rogue elements of the GPF and that Edwin Niles met his death at the hands of equally rogue elements of the Prison Authorities.

The Minister of Home Affairs promised that there would be an investigation. That investigation has joined the army of phantom investigations which have been promised by this Administration. But this is a very serious matter and the PNCR will keep it alive. The Party is calling for an independent investigation - the Police cannot investigate itself - into the allegation of torture by members of the Police Force.

Even though some identified members of the Prison Service have been charged in relation to the Niles murder, the PNCR believes that now is the best time to have an independent investigation, especially in view of the death in prison, in July 2008, of Nolan Noble.

In 2006, the PPP/C had the greatest difficulty explaining allegations of torture and other infractions of the law, by the security forces, to the UN committee against torture to which it has to report periodically under the CAT. When the Jagdeo Administration reports, on this occasion, it will have the greatest difficulty explaining the blatant violations of the human rights of Patrick Sumner, Victor Jones, David Zammett, Alvin Wilson, Michael Dunn and Sharth Robertson.

The PNCR will ensure that the UN committee against torture is in full possession of all of the facts on this matter.

CRIME AND SECURITY:

With the death of Jermaine “Skinny” Charles and Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, the propagandist of the PPP/C gave this nation the impression that crime was under control. They had been warned that this was far from the truth and there were other criminal gangs out there. This is exactly what has come to pass.

In a chilling report to the nation recently, no less a person than the Crime Chief, Mr. Seelall Persaud, revealed that crime is exploding around the country. What seems to be quite clear is that there are other criminal gangs and individual criminals operating, with apparent impunity, in the less policed areas of the country.

The PNCR has long believed, and articulated its views publicly, that there must be a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional and holistic approach to crime. Mere force will not bring it to an end. The Jagdeo Administration must look at the broad sociological, as well as economic and other factors which lead to crime and factor these into its crime fighting plans and programmes.

No Guyanese can be happy with a society hamstrung and disfigured by crime. But this is the reality of Guyana today. It is imperative that this must change, if Guyana is to attract investment, ensure social peace and stability and provide the requisite security environment for its citizens.

PPP/C HOUSE LOT POLICY UNRAVELLING:

It was once fashionable for the PPP/C to boast of its success in granting house lots to our citizens. Now there is silence surrounding this matter. This is not difficult to understand, as the house lot programme is visibly riddled with corruption, nepotism, favouritism and blatant discrimination. There is a clear bias towards the wealthy. It is well known that many senior officials of the PPP/C and their acolytes have been known to buy out the poorer classes of Guyanese who have been granted house lots but who have been unable to build on them.

Now comes the turn of the screw. The Jagdeo Administration has given notice that it will repossess the house lots of those citizens who have been unable to build on their lots.

The PNCR considers this to be a gross injustice to the poorer classes of this nation and a blow to their ambitions to own their homes. The Jagdeo Administration must have known, from the inception, that it would have been very difficult for poor people to afford the cost of putting down the relevant infrastructure and a building. Indeed, when Bharrat Jagdeo, in one of his rare periods of enlightenment, suggested that the Government would look into providing low interest mortgages, for those who own house lots, to build their homes, he was recognising how hard it is for them to do so. Unfortunately, this enlightenment did not seem to last. The low interest mortgages have never materialised.

The regime is now threatening the poor people of this country that they will soon lose their land and any hope of a home. This is yet another assault, of the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration, on the poor classes of this nation.

COST OF LIVING:

No PPP/C propaganda or outright misrepresentation can change the fact that the cost of living is constantly challenging the existence of the Guyanese people. The cost of living has risen sharply primarily because of the ill-conceived introduction of the 16% Value Added Tax (VAT). This was compounded by the sharp rise in food prices and would now be made worse by the current global financial crisis.

The continuing rise in the cost of living is having such a devastating and negative impact upon the Guyanese people that the Jagdeo Administration must consider putting in place a programme to cushion its continuous ruinous effects. At the time of the rise in food prices, the Jagdeo Administration had hastily put in place a package of measures which turned out to be very inadequate.

The current situation demands that there be urgently created, a task force of competent persons with the mandate to determine the likely consequences of the financial crisis and recommend stimulus measures which would provide relief for our citizens, especially the most vulnerable such as the elderly and those on fixed incomes.

The Jagdeo Administration must tell the nation what has become of the Single Parent Fund. What has been done with the touted G$100Mn?

The impression was given that the fund would be instituted speedily, especially after the great fanfare about the Single Parent survey. Nothing has been heard of the fund since then. It is a scandal that the President of this country could announce the creation of such a fund, in response to public pressure, and nothing further has been done almost a year later.

This is not only a glaring example of poor governance but an illustration of the contempt and disregard, of the regime, for the rapidly growing army of vulnerable members of our society.

THE EIGHT ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE PARLIAMENTARY NETWORK OF THE WORLD BANK: 20-22 November 2008, Paris, France:

The Leader of the Opposition and of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, is attending the above Conference which is jointly organized with the World Bank and hosted by the French National Assembly and the French Government.

The theme for the Conference is: “Delivering Development in the midst of Food, Fuel and Financial Crises and the Climate Change Challenge.”

This Conference, in Paris, is hosting 150 Members of Parliament and development leaders, from across the world, and provides the opportunity for them to hear from, and interact directly with, amongst others, the French Minister of Finance, the President of the World Bank and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 20 November 2008