PPP ATTACK ON REPORT BY UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT UNDIPLOMATIC AND MISGUIDED--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 2 April 2009




SUMMARY:
• The Party extends its sympathy to Mrs. Janet Jagan’s children, Joey and Nadira, the relatives, friends and other leaders and members of the PPP;
• There is an unconcealed attempt by the Jagdeo Administration to denigrate the character of Ms. Gay McDougall and to question her professional qualification as an expert on minority issues;
• The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration and the Commissioner of Police to explain publicly why an investigation into Khan’s criminal enterprise has not yet been launched, despite all of the publicly available information on his activities in Guyana;
• The PNCR reiterates its call for an immediate independent and impartial Inquiry into the growing number of allegations of torture by the Police and the GDF;
• The PNCR believes that $1,000 a month for Day Care to single parents is grossly inadequate as the average cost of Day Care for a month is in the region of $4,000 a month.


THE PASSING OF MRS. JANET JAGAN, O.E.

The People’s National Congress Reform accorded Mrs. Janet Jagan the courtesy and respect required by the occasion of her death. The Party dispatched a message of condolence, which was carried in the media. The Party Leader, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin, MP, and other Members of Parliament and Members of the Central Executive Committee of the Party signed the Book of Condolence at the Parliament Buildings, on Monday 30th March 2009.

On the occasion of the State Ceremony, at the Parliament Buildings on Tuesday 31st March 2009, the Leader of the PNCR and Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP, in his address, gave ample recognition to the role of Mrs. Jagan in the political and social development of Guyana.

May her soul rest in peace!

PPP ATTACK ON REPORT BY UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT UNDIPLOMATIC AND MISGUIDED

The response of the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration to the Report, by the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, makes for sad reading. The language is crass, abrasive and falls outside of the ambit of normal diplomatic exchange between a Government and a highly regarded institution of the United Nations.

The methodology of the rebuttal is severely flawed. In its quest to blunt the effect of this damaging report, the Jagdeo Administration responds to the summary of the report, its main contents and the recommendations. The rebuttal is repetitious and unconvincing.

What is alarming, for a sitting Government, is that it is clear that there is an unconcealed attempt to denigrate the character of Ms. Gay McDougall and to question her professional qualification as an expert on minority issues.

The PPP/C Administration rejects everything in the report. It denies that there is discrimination against Afro-Guyanese. It denies that Afro-Guyanese are not stereotyped and criminalised. It denies that Guyana is highly polarised ethnically. The allegations of torture are denied. The evidence of discrimination as regards the issuing of contracts is denied. Indeed, the Administration’s rebuttal of the report is the reaction of an Administration in deep denial.

There is not a single intelligent Guyanese who would claim that Guyana is not a highly polarised society and that this is worsening with every passing day. Independent observers have also come to this conclusion. The USAID Guyana Country Strategy 2009-2013 states the following: “Underlying these challenges (weak democratic institutions, the inconsistent rule of law) is the fundamental ethnic cleavage in the population …”

The PPP/C castigates Ms. McDougall for not including consideration of the state of Amerindians in the report, even though she stated that this was outside of her mandate.

The Jagdeo Administration even went to the extreme length of trying to make a case that all ethnic groups in Guyana are minorities.

The PPP and the Jagdeo Administration have a history of rejecting reports that do not accord with their propaganda expectations. Guyanese should be reminded that the PPP objected to the Waddington Report of 1952 and the Robertson Report of 1957. Recently, when Sir Michael Davies visited Guyana and produced his Needs Assessment Report and recommendations, for the National Assembly, he was accused of bias by the Jagdeo Administration. Sir Michael returned to Guyana, at the request of the Administration, and listened to the complaints against his report. In the event, he returned to the UK and did not find it necessary to change his assessment and the recommendations contained in his original report.

However, a Press Conference does not allow the PNCR adequate time to deal with every aspect of the rebuttal by the Jagdeo Administration. This would be done by way of a document being prepared by the Party.

AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO ROGER KHAN’S CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES IS URGENT

There is now sufficient evidence, in the public domain, for the Jagdeo Administration to immediately launch a comprehensive, independent and impartial public Inquiry into the criminal enterprise of Roger Khan, which, among other consequences, led to the deaths of more than 200 Guyanese.

Roger Khan and members of his gang were apprehended at Good Hope on the East Coast of Demerara, in December of 2002, with weapons and the now infamous “spy computer”. It is now clearly established that this equipment could only have been bought by a Government.

Roger Khan’s attorney, Robert Simels, has asserted that the Guyana Government gave Khan permission to purchase this computer, rendering hollow and unconvincing the claims by the Jagdeo Administration that it has not done so. This computer was found in the office of Simels when it was raided by agents of the United States Government. The Jagdeo Administration, however, claims that the computer is still in the possession of the Commissioner of Police.

The Inquiry must also determine if the Guyana Government or the United States Government has the right computer and should bring closure to the gory period in our history, between 2002 and 2004.

Roger Khan has pleaded guilty, in effect, to heading a criminal enterprise which was responsible for the deaths of over 200 Guyanese citizens. The deaths of so many young men must not go in vain.

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration and the Commissioner of Police to explain publicly why an investigation into Khan’s criminal enterprise has not yet been launched, despite all of the publicly available information on his activities in Guyana. Who were the public and private officials and entities responsible for supporting Khan’s criminal network in Guyana?

It is ingenuous of the Jagdeo Administration to seek to give the impression that the question of determining the whereabouts of the actual “spy computer” is solely the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police. The Jagdeo Administration has a direct responsibility in this matter.

The PNCR believes that the Commissioner of Police must be given the latitude for a thorough investigation. However, the Party recalls that, when the previous Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix, decided to take on the drug traffickers in our midst, the Jagdeo Administration did not scruple to place obstacles in his way and connive at his departure from office.

The Party calls on all those who have lost loved ones, as a result of Khan’s criminal enterprise, to immediately come forward with whatever information and facts they may possess which can help with the Inquiry.

It is critical that action be taken, not only to understand what happened during the period in question, but also to ensure that there is no repetition. The nation can ill afford the adverse effects and consequences of another criminal enterprise, which is fuelled by the criminal underground and drug trafficking.

TORTURE

At the Party’s Press Conference, on 5th March 2009, we raised the question of the allegations of torture, made by Ryan Gordon and Mitchell Thomas, against the Joint Services, during a narcotics raid, in Wakenaam on 28th February 2009. On that occasion, the Party noted that both individuals had made statements to the police and, therefore, it was expected that a thorough investigation would be held without undue delays.

The Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs, in the wake of these statements, had given an assurance that an investigation would be launched into these allegations.

To date, there is no indication that the Jagdeo Administration has taken any measures to ensure that such an investigation has been or will be launched. The PNCR is concerned that, as on the previous occasions, involving members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who had made allegations against the security forces, there would be maximum administrative delays and then a cover-up.

The PNCR wishes to remind the Jagdeo Administration of its obligations, under the conventions that it had signed, which prohibit torture, such as the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the OAS Convention Against Torture. The former convention demands that the Jagdeo Administration “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

The Party also wishes to remind that there is the outstanding matter of torture by the police force of David Zammett. He was so brutally tortured that he was unable to stand, walk or speak comfortably when he appeared in court. The then Judge, Justice Jainaraine Singh, given Zammett’s alarming condition, ordered that he be examined by a doctor. Not surprisingly, this was not done. The PNCR once again calls on the Administration to investigate the torture of David Zammett by members of the Guyana Police Force.

The Party reiterates its call for an immediate independent and impartial Inquiry into the growing number of allegations of torture by the Police and the GDF.

SINGLE PARENT FUND

The details of the Single Parent Fund, as announced in the media, make for disappointing reading.

The Ministry of Human Services has recently announced that the Single Parent Fund will be launched and that 700 single parents will receive $1,000 a month for Day Care fees for their children. The PNCR believes that this figure is grossly inadequate as the average cost of Day Care for a month is in the region of $4,000. The Party, therefore, calls on the Jagdeo Administration to revise this figure upwards without any undue delay. There is a further question. It is noted that $8M has been allocated to the fund for the rest of the year. By our calculation the total cost for assisting the 700 single parents for the next nine (9) months should be $6.3M. It, therefore, means that there is $1.7M which will not be utilised by the fund. The PNCR calls on Minister Priya Manickchand to tell the Guyanese public what would have happened to this residual sum of money.

The Party has noted that, out of the 30,000 applicants, only 700 were considered to be qualified for assistance from the fund. It would be helpful if the Ministry of Human Services can inform the public how it arrived at this decision.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 2 April 2009