HUMAN RIGHTS: THE REGIME MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUALLY ABUSE OUR CITIZENS--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 24 July 2009




SUMMARY:
• Ken Sampson was a PNC member of the reconstituted Elections Commission, which presided over the 1992 elections;
• The Congress is expected to finalise the party’s position on local Government Elections and launch the Party’s local Government Election Campaign;
• The PNCR considers it a matter for national concern that, unfortunately, the Ministries, or parts of them, destroyed, resulted in the destruction of important documents or information which would have helped ongoing investigations;
• The PNCR reminds the Jagdeo Administration that torture is in violation of our Constitution and several international covenants to which Guyana is a signatory, such as the UN Convention against Torture (CAT);
• The Party hopes that the Jagdeo Administration will see the light and recognise that the public servants of Guyana deserve a substantial increase in their wages and salaries;
• The PNCR takes note of the fact that the burdens on the Guyanese people will increase as the global financial and economic crisis takes its toll on their relatives in the United States, Canada and Britain causing them to be unable to send the remittances.

PNCR EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF THE LATE, JONAS (KEN) SAMPSON:

The People’s National Congress Reform has learnt with regret of the passing of Mr. Jonas (Ken) Sampson. The Party tenders its sincere condolences to his wife and all sorrowing relatives.

Ken Sampson was a PNC member of the reconstituted Elections Commission, which presided over the 1992 elections. An entrepreneur, he re-migrated from the United States after spending decades there. In 1970, he established the KENSAKO Company which served the bauxite industry at Linden. It was while he was managing that enterprise that President Desmond Hoyte nominated him to be a member of the Elections Commission.

The PNCR recognises Mr. Ken Sampson’s contribution to Guyana as a businessman and as an enlightened citizen.

May his soul rest in peace!

PNCR 16TH BIENNIAL DELEGATES CONGRESS AUGUST 21 TO 22, 2009:

Arrangements are well advanced for the 16th Biennial Delegates Congress of the PNCR, scheduled for August 21 and 22, 2009. The Congress is being held under the theme, “People’s Victory through Local Democracy” to place particular emphasis on the impending Local Government Reforms and the upcoming Local Government Elections. The Congress is expected to finalise the Party’s position on Local Government Elections and launch the Party’s Local Government Election Campaign. The Central Executive Committee (CEC) decided on the two day Congress, instead of the usual three days, because it is anticipated that the Party will hold a Special Congress next year, 2010.

More than two thousand delegates, observers and special invitees from all ten Regions of Guyana, the North American and the UK Regions are expected to participate. The various Committees, responsible for areas such as Food and Accommodation, Accreditation, Questions and Motions, Opening Ceremony and Physical Arrangements, are finalising their work programmes while others have already commenced activities.

Party groups have already submitted their nominations for Party Officers and members of the Central Executive Committee, as well as, the names of their delegates and observers. As usual, the programme will commence on Friday evening of August 21, 2009 with an opening ceremony that would include the Congress Address by Party Leader, Robert Corbin. Saturday August 22, will be devoted to other Congress business including, the election of Party Officers and members of the Central Executive Committee.

The CEC has approved a number of new measures to ensure that there can be no justifiable complaints about transparency in any of the Congress processes.

The Congress Public Relations Committee will hold a Special Press Conference next week at which the media would be briefed on all matters relating to the Congress.

FIRE AT HEALTH MINISTRY: A FURTHER DRAIN ON OUR RESOURCES;

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, has already deplored the physical and material loss resulting from the destruction by fire of the Ministry of Health building, on Friday 17 July 2009. The nation can ill afford such losses when citizens are experiencing great hardships and are unable to have a decent livelihood with the spiralling cost of living.

It is significant that, since 1992, several Ministries have been destroyed by fire:

• A section of the Ministry of Public Works in 1996.
• A section of the Ministry of Education in 1999.
• Ministry of Housing and Water in 2001.
• Ministry of Health in 2009.

The PNCR considers it a matter for national concern that, unfortunately, the Ministries, or parts of them, destroyed, resulted in the destruction of important documents or information which could have helped ongoing investigations.

The PNCR takes careful note of the fact that, during his interview with the National Communications Network (NCN), on Monday 20 July 2009, the President said that there would be no casting of blame until the investigation is completed. He also indicated that there would be a thorough investigation and has announced a $25M dollar reward for information. Recent reports suggest, however, that the reward may be insufficient since the security forces are in the process of manufacturing evidence using torture.

HUMAN RIGHTS: THE REGIME MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUALLY ABUSE OUR CITIZENS:

Over several weeks and months, the PNCR has advocated that inquiries be held into the allegations of beatings and torturing of our citizens by elements of the security forces. We did so because we believe that respect for, and observance of, the rule of law in a democracy is the best means of safeguarding the rights of our citizens. We also did so because we seriously believe that unless allegations of torture were investigated and the perpetrators penalised, out of control elements of the security forces, allied to the political directorate, would continue to believe that they could beat and torture our citizens with impunity. It has all happened again.

It is now widely reported that Troy Small, called “Cats”, has been badly beaten and tortured by elements of the security forces. The circumstances surrounding this incident can best be described as obscene and emphasises once again that this nation is undergoing a period of extended lawlessness.

According to information available to the PNCR, Small was kidnapped on Monday 20 July 2009, and taken to the cemetery where he was brutally tortured by elements of the disciplined forces. One Police Station refused to accept him when he was taken there after being so badly beaten. The Alberttown Police Station, however, did. Reports suggest that Small was suspected of involvement in the fire, which destroyed the Ministry of Health, and it is evident that, like the case of David Zammet, elements of the security forces believe that the mere suspicion of some infraction of the law entitles them to engage in torture. The legal principle that recognises that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law has no meaning to some members of the political directorate and their willing and brutal henchmen in the security forces.

The PNCR reminds the Jagdeo Administration that torture is in violation of our Constitution and several international covenants to which Guyana is a signatory, such as the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT). That Convention stipulates that victims of torture be entitled to compensation and that Heads of State who are guilty of such acts can be brought to account. President Jagdeo should take note of the ongoing trial of the former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, who was similarly accused of crimes against humanity, but who years later has now been arrested and is being made to account for his alleged misdeeds.

Once again, the Party calls on the Jagdeo Administration to initiate an immediate investigation into this latest act of torture against one of our citizens. The outstanding investigations into previous acts of torture which have been highlighted by this Party, such as those committed against Ryan Gordon and Mitchell Thomas, who were violated during a raid for narcotics, in Wakenaam, on 28 February 2009, must be undertaken and those guilty must be prosecuted and brought to justice.

Of equal concern to the PNCR is the alleged attempt by the same unruly disciplined forces to harass and intimidate Poole. Mr. Archie Poole is a well-known Guyanese. He has fearlessly marched against injustice and the excesses of this Administration on several occasions in this country. It is evident that the regime, using the excuse of the recent fire at the Ministry of Health, plans to terrorise persons of political rather than of security interest. The PNCR is convinced, therefore, that the Jagdeo Regime is pursuing a political agenda. The PNCR calls on all its supporters to be on alert. The harassment of Mr. Archie Poole and of recent information on that of Mr. Heston Boswick, must not be allowed to continue.

These frequent abuses of the human rights of our citizens provide further evidence of the emerging tyranny, which is befalling the people of Guyana.

THE INCREASE FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS MUST BE RESULT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING:

The PNCR has taken note of President Jagdeo’s announcement, during an interview with the National Communications Network (NCN), of pay increase to public servants later this year. This is the latest evidence that the Administration is determined to undermine the collective bargaining process by unilateral imposition of salaries for public servants. This recent action validates the criticism of the Administration by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), in their July 2009 Report. The relevant section of the Report states:

“Guyanese workers have the right to bargain collectively in both the public and private sector. However over the last decade, collective agreements in many public services have not been honoured by the Government. Collective agreements recognised by the Government and/or state agencies with many trade unions, including the National Union of Public Servants Employees, the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union, the Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union, the Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers, and the General Workers Union, among others, have been replaced by circulars issued by the Administration, ignoring the collective bargaining agreements.”

It is time that the Jagdeo Administration respects the rights of the workers by reaching an agreement with the Guyana Public Service Union on an adequate wages and salaries package for our hard pressed, hard working and grossly underpaid public servants.

At its Press Conference, on 10 July 2009, the PNCR called for an adequate increase in the salaries for our public servants. It would be total injustice and an insult to impose on them a derisory increase, which would compound the reduction of their real incomes, in the face of the rising cost of living.

The Party hopes that the Jagdeo Administration will see the light and recognise that the public servants of Guyana deserve a substantial increase in their wages and salaries.

COST OF LIVING:

While the public servants are likely to get an increase in wages and salaries, the vast majority of the Guyanese people will continue to face severe economic hardships. No evaluation by the International Financial Institutions, the propaganda of the Jagdeo Administration or the mantra of “sound macro economic factors” can conceal the fact that our people are reeling from the continuing economic challenges. While the Administration denies that such hardship exists, the Guyanese people live it on a daily basis. They struggle to get their children to school, to put food on the table and pay electricity and water bills. Each day, each week, each month is an exacting test.

The PNCR takes note of the fact that the burdens on the Guyanese people will increase as the global financial and economic crisis takes its toll on their relatives in the United States, Canada and Britain causing them to be unable to send the remittances. Indeed, the latest studies done by the IFI’s forecast that remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean will decline by some 7%. This will not only be a blow to the local economy, as remittances have played a significant role in stabilising the exchange rate, but also to those families for whom the remittances were necessary for such things as the paying of school fees, the repayment of loans to the Bank, etc.

The PNCR hopes that President Jagdeo and the CARICOM Task Force will act with dispatch to develop plans for the states of the Caribbean so that they could ride out the current crisis and bring some measure of relief to the respective populations. This task is particularly urgent in the case of Guyana. Some form of economic relief is very urgent for this nation.



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 24 July 2009