LOSS OF £4.9M BRITISH SECURITY SECTOR PROJECT A RESULT OF JAGDEO’S ARROGANCE AND DECEPTIVE CONSULTATION-- PRESS STATEMENT Thursday October 29, 2009




SUMMARY:
• The PPP/C appears to be suffering from paranoia on Torture but their misguided attempt to distract public attention from torture by the security forces would not succeed in diverting the PNCR from this serious issue affecting the fundamental rights of our citizens;
• Contrary to the propaganda being churned out from the Office of the President, the cancellation of the one trillion, five hundred and sixty eight million Guyana dollars (G$1,568,000,000) security sector project by the British is clearly the result of bad faith on the part of the Jagdeo Administration, its failure to ensure genuine stakeholder consultation as agreed, its failure to ensure genuine Parliamentary oversight and its refusal to agree to a management model that would ensure transparency in the application of the funds by the donor;
• The Jagdeo Administration’s intention to frustrate Local Government Reform is manifested in the Parliamentary Select Committee as the PPP/C attempts to sacrifice the work of the Local Government task Force on the alter of political expediency;
• GPL woes continue as GECOM commences ID Card distribution and dissention within the ranks of the PPP/C on Jagdeo’s third term is exposed;
• The public awareness campaign by the Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP), continues while the Police in their diversionary Investigation seek to obtain list of persons murdered by Roger Khan from Leader of the Opposition.

PPP/C PARANOIA ON THE ISSUE OF TORTURE: THE PNCR WILL NOT BE DIVERTED UNTIL PROPER INVESTIGATIONS ARE HELD

PPP/C officials appear to be suffering from paranoia whenever the issue of torture in Guyana is mentioned. This is probably because of the on-going trial of former President Charles Taylor of Liberia after he left Office and the recent success rate of the International Criminal Court in pursuing those guilty of serious crimes after they have left Office. Dr. Ashni Singh’s puerile and misguided attempt to distract public attention from torture by the security forces would not succeed in diverting the People’s National Congress Reform from this serious issue affecting the fundamental rights of our citizens. The PNCR is surprised that this professional would allow himself to be used as a political hack to deliberately misrepresent what took place in the National Assembly and divert attention to PNCR Member of Parliament, Ms. Deborah Backer. It is clear that anyone associated with the PPP is soon infected with the political virus. Dr. Ashni Singh should, however, ask himself why the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee, responsible for the Police and Prisons, the Prime Minister, answering for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), or the “roughing up” Minister of Agriculture were not selected by the PPP for that assignment. The truth is that none of them would have any moral authority to do so.

Mr. Rohee would have to provide answers to the brutal torture of Edwin Niles while in the custody of the Guyana Prison Service as well as explanations on the torture of Patrick Sumner, Victor Jones and many others by the security forces; Mr. Sam Hinds would have to explain the torture of GDF ranks by members of the Guyana Defence Force and why the report on the Investigation was never made public?

The truth is, however, that Ms. Backer, speaking in the Debate on the resolution to send our troops to Trinidad and Tobago, was correctly pointing to the fact that the PPP/C Administration appears to be selectively honouring their treaty obligations. Guyana is also a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. Article 2 Paragraph 2 of that convention states:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

In January 2008 army personnel, Michael Dunn, Alvin Wilson and Sharth Robertson, made public their allegations that they were tortured by senior officers within the Guyana Defence Force. Amidst the public outcry, the Government finally announced the appointment of a Board of Inquiry within the GDF. On February 7, 2008, the PNCR stated that the Army could not investigate itself. This was particularly so after the Party disclosed that it had received disturbing information that the Military Criminal Investigation Department (MCID) of the GDF was under tight political control and is the Department largely responsible for the commission of acts of torture. The Party stated that the appropriate response was to put this organ of the GDF under immediate and independent investigation. On the question of torture, the Party’s position as stated on February 7, 2008, was,

“The only credible way for the investigations, into the allegations of torture, to be done is by an independent commission, consisting of upstanding citizens of this Republic whose integrity are beyond question.”

Meanwhile, the Government’s attempts to cover up this serious development was highlighted when Mr. Robert Persaud, Minister of Agriculture, choose to disrespect the National Assembly by defending the GDF torture as “roughing up”. The attitude of the PPP/C Administration in condoning torture was further highlighted by its failure to publish the report of the GDF Board of Inquiry and their prolonged refusal to debate a motion on torture brought to the National Assembly by the PNCR. When the motion was finally debated, it was evident that the PPP had no remorse or any respect for the people of Guyana.

The nation has also not forgotten the dramatic evidence of torture shown on National Television when David Zammett had to be assisted by security officers into Court and the Judge ordering that he be taken immediately to hospital. After more than two years, there has been no investigation into the torture of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones.

Since then several other serious allegations have continually been made against ranks of the GDF and the Police Force including, murder and robbery under arms. There are reports presently in the media of possible malfeasance by ranks of the Coast Guard. Surely, Guyanese would wish to be assured that there are adequate measures in place to ensure that some of these ranks do not embarrass our nation overseas. It is, therefore, a matter of legitimate concern that allegations of wrongdoing are promptly investigated to provide the confidence that our soldiers make Guyana proud overseas. The failure of the Presidential Secretariat and the Defence Board to make known their last investigations into torture provides no assurance that the guilty ranks are being reigned in.

The PNCR has always commended members of the security forces when they have performed creditably and we have always stated that the acts of a few do not represent the many committed and decent minded members of the forces. Similarly, however, the PNCR will continue to speak out when wrongs are committed. The security forces ought to be well aware that a few bad ranks can destroy the entire reputation of the forces.

The relevant issue then is what will be done to ensure that there is discipline within the ranks of the security forces so that there will be no further reports of torture. Regrettably, the PPP Administration does not appear to be willing to honour its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture. Consequently, the PNCR will be persistent in its quest to end these unconstitutional activities.

LOSS OF £4.9M BRITISH SECURITY SECTOR PROJECT A RESULT OF JAGDEO’S ARROGANCE AND DECEPTIVE CONSULTATION

Contrary to the propaganda being churned out from the Office of the President, the cancellation of the one trillion, five hundred and sixty eight million Guyana dollars (G$1,568,000,000) security sector project by the British is clearly the result of bad faith on the part of the Jagdeo Administration, its failure to ensure genuine stakeholder consultation as agreed, its failure to ensure genuine Parliamentary oversight and its refusal to agree to a management model that would ensure transparency in the application of the funds by the donor.

The PNCR is not surprised at this recent development and had over the last year raised questions about the delay in the release of funds by the donor. As late as October 8, last, the PNCR reminded the nation of the, “PPP/C’s 17 YEARS OF VILLIFICATION, NON-CONSULTATION AND DECEPTION” where consultation has been used as a convenience whenever the Administration finds itself in difficulty. In that statement, the Party specifically referred to the sham consultation by the PPP on the Security Sector Reform Plan:

“For example, perfunctory consultations were only evident when the crime spree and security situation reached alarming proportions with the massacre at Lusignan and Bartica. Civil society who had been hoodwinked into the belief that Jagdeo was serious soon realized that they were pawns in Jagdeo’s political game of convenience. These consultations came to an abrupt end after the PPP were able to make political mileage of the event in a Parliamentary debate.”

The regime, as they have done on several previous occasions with donor funds, having secured the British loan in principle, sought every means to avoid their obligations and to be in a position to misuse those funds without any real oversight. The PPP ensured that the established Parliamentary Committee was restricted in its role to only receiving reports. They then stubbornly resisted any arrangement where the donor could verify that the funds were being spent in the manner approved. It is evident that the British were not hood winked

The world is now aware that President Jagdeo’s speeches to the Parliament and elsewhere about regular consultation were mere rhetoric. The record of the PPP/C, with respect to Public Consultation, has been driven and informed by the hard-core PPP commitment to the philosophy of Democratic Centralism. The result has been characterised by chicanery, bad faith, and a contemptuous disregard for the views of the public, particularly those perceived not to share the views of the Administration.

The Administration has resorted to a convoluted form of Public Consultation primarily to satisfy the conditionality imposed by Donors or to diffuse tensions with the Opposition, without any genuine commitment to the process. It has been, in reality, form without substance.

Public Consultation (consultation) should, in a truly democratic state, be used as a public regulatory process to involve the public on matters affecting their lives. The primary objective should be to improve the efficiency and transparency of Governmental activities. In other words, it requires that there should be respect and regard for the views of the public on matters of public interest, including Governmental projects or laws and policies. The process of public consultation should require adequate and reliable notification (to publicize and inform the public of the matter to be consulted on), consultation (a genuine two-way flow of information and opinion exchange), as well as participation (involving true stakeholder participation to impact on the matter of public interest).

The methodology of the Jagdeo Administration has been to provide the public with very vague, fuzzy and often convoluted notification of the matter for consultation. For example, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), etc, and then to mount a major PR blitz while proceeding to solicit predetermined responses from selected cohorts, rather than encouraging genuine participation by the public.

A poll of the public would reveal that, after several years of so-called consultation on the PRSP, most members of the public still do not know what the acronym means. The same applies to now in vogue Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). What does it mean?

There is no doubt that, for both of the programmes named, the Administration should have been seeking to build a national consensus by meaningful consultations involving all major stakeholders, including the Opposition Parties. Unfortunately, this approach is anathema to the base instincts of the PPP hierarchy. Therefore, they have pursued approaches, which effectively shut out the Opposition and those elements of civil society, which are independent of the Administration.

The history of public consultation and the implementation of the outcomes, under the PPP regime, is littered by the display of bad faith and, often, downright dishonesty. The examples include:

 Consultations on Local Government Reform: present attempts to undermine the Task Force’s recommendations;
 The removal of the Government Radio Broadcast monopoly: Years after the joint task force’s recommendations, the High Court was forced to rule on this issue. It is anyone’s guess when any action would be taken;
 National Broadcast Legislation;
 The establishment of Non-Partisan Boards for the State owned media: from limited representation to non-representation;
 National Policy on the distribution of Land and House lots: After political mileage exclusive PPP control of the process;
 Bauxite Industry Resuscitation: Exclusion of all despite agreements with the Opposition;
 Support for Marginalised and Depressed Communities:
 The appointment of Opposition representatives on State Boards, Commissions and Committees;
 The implementation of the Consensually Agreed Constitutional Reforms which were all passed into law by the National Assembly since the third quarter of 2001.

A perusal of the 5 May 2003 Communiqué, signed by the President and the Leader of the Opposition provides ample evidence of the poor record of implementation even after agreement.

In the arena of Constitutional Consultations, although Title 10 of the Constitution is explicit about what constitutes consultation or meaningful consultation, the President has steadfastly been in violation thereof. The fiasco in the appointments of the Integrity Commission, the extension of the life of the Ethnic Relations Commission, the appointments of the Commissioner of Police and the Chancellor and Chief Justice are all well-known. It is obvious that the President is of the mistaken view that he is above the Law and the Constitution. He should however, learn from the lessons of history.

JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TO FRUSTRATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM

The intention of the PPP/C Administration to undermine the Local Government Reform process was clearly manifested at the first meeting, of the Special Select Committee on the Local Government Bills 2009, after the National Assembly’s Recess, on Tuesday 27 October 2009.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties expected that, after the shameless display of bad faith and dishonourable behaviour by the PPP/C, prior to the National Assembly Recess, that party would return to the Committee resolved to complete the expeditious consideration of the core Local Government Reform Bills. Alas, this was a vain hope. The PPP/C leopard could not change its spots!

Led by the Parliamentary enforcer of PPP doctrine and Administration’s bad faith, Ms Gail Teixeira, the PPP/C representatives made it pellucid that they have no intention to complete the Local Government Reform process. It seems that they are most afraid of the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2009 – Bill No. 25 of 2009.

It is instructive that their claims of the urgency for the passage of the two (2) Bills (The Local Government (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2009 – Bill No. 21 of 2009 and the Local Government Commission Bill 2009 – Bill No. 22 of 2009,) prior to the National Assembly Recess, is not borne out by the speed with which the Presidential Assent was given (29 September 2009 for The Local Government (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2009). The President has not yet assented to the Local Government Commission Bill 2009.

It should be recalled, that the participation of the Parliamentary Opposition Parties, in the work of the Special Select Committee on the Local Government Bills 2009, was premised on the understanding that the consideration of the five (5) Bills (No.21 of 2009, No. 22 of 2009, No. 23 of 2009, No. 25 of 2009 and No. 26 of 2009), which were laid in the National Assembly and referred to the Special Select Committee, would be expedited so that they could all be passed by the National Assembly as a “package” representing the agreed Reforms of the Local Government System prior to the holding of Local Government Elections.

True to their instincts and normal mode of operation, the PPP/C representatives stoutly resisted the suggestion by the Parliamentary Opposition Parties that, consistent with the intention of the Parties, the Committee should be named the Special Select Committee on Local Government Reform. As a result the compromise name agreed was the Special Select Committee on the Local Government Bills 2009.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties, consistent with their commitment to work towards the expeditious consideration of the Bills, were very co-operative and, consequently, the Agenda, for the meeting on Tuesday 21 July 2009, reflected the progress that had been made, as follows:

Items:
ii. To conclude consideration of the Local Government (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2009 – Bill No. 21 of 2009;
iii. To conclude consideration of the Local Government Commission Bill 2009 – Bill No. 22 of 2009;
iv. To commence consideration of the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2009 – Bill No. 23 of 2009:
v. To commence consideration of the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2009 – Bill No. 25 of 2009

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties pointed out that, since Bill No. 23 of 2009 was intended to capture all of the amendments to the various Local Government Acts, its consideration should await the completion of the consideration of the core Local Government Reform Bills, namely, Bills Nos. 21, 22, 25 and 26. As a consequence, and in the absence of Ms. Teixeira, the Meeting of 21 July 2009 began consideration of the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2009 and this is reflected in the 35 letter sized pages of the Verbatim Report on that discussion.

It was, therefore, a matter for concern by the Parliamentary Opposition Parties that the Agenda for last Tuesday’s meeting showed:

Items:
iii. To consider the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2009 – Bill No. 23 of 2009;
iv. To commence consideration of the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2009 - Bill No. 25 of 2009;
v. To commence consideration of the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2009 – Bill No. 26 of 2009.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties again reminded the PPP/C representatives that the purpose of Bill No. 23 of 2009 was intended to capture all of the amendments to the various Local Government Acts. Therefore, its consideration should await the completion of the consideration of the core Local Government Reform Bills, namely, Bills Nos.21, 22, 25 and 26. In addition, since the existence of the Verbatim Report, of the discussion of the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2009, testified to their being a previous consideration of this Bill, it was not accurate or correct to use the terms, “to commence consideration” with reference to that Bill.

The PPP/C representatives justified their approach on the very specious and ingenuously contrived argument that the Bills should be considered in the sequence in which they were presented to the National Assembly. It was evident that there could be no meeting of minds on these matters and the PPP/C, using their majority, proceeded to commence work based on that Agenda. This is yet another example of the PPP/C deception under the term consultation. The years of work of the Bipartisan Local Government Task Force, which was unilaterally disbanded by Jagdeo, appear ready to be sacrificed on the altar of PPP political expediency.

GPL WOES CONTINUE AS GECOM BEGINS ID CARD DISTRIBUTION AND DISSENTION WITHIN THE RANKS OF THE PPP/C ON JAGDEO’S THIRD TERM IS EXPOSED

The people of Guyana continue to experience the 17 years of PPP/C’s incompetence in the power sector with no respite from the unscheduled and frequent blackouts over the past week. Prime Minister Sam Hinds had assured the Nation, in response to a motion in the National Assembly by the Opposition Leader that electricity supply would return to normal by November 5, 2009. The PNCR, while being pessimistic because of the many unfulfilled promises over the 17 years of the PPP, is hoping that on this occasion the Prime Minister fulfills his commitment. The nation can ill afford the lost man-hours, the damage to equipment, the loss of productivity and the general dislocation caused by frequent power outages. The Party will, therefore, be monitoring the situation.

The electricity situation becomes more critical in the context of GECOM’s announcement of the commencement of production and distribution of National ID Cards based on the recent House-to-House Registration exercise. Reliable electricity supply is essential at the production centers particularly, in the context of the security considerations for the new ID Cards. More important, is security at the many centers where the ID Cards would be distributed. The PNCR expects that GECOM would be making adequate arrangements to deal with this situation during its field operations. Meanwhile, the PNCR is carefully monitoring how the recent Order by the Minister of Local Government is being applied to re arrange constituencies. The PNCR has already publicized its concerns and given the behaviour of the PPP/C at the level of the Select Committee in Parliament, vigilance is essential. The PNCR will keep the Nation updated on developments.

It is ironic, however, that in the face of the 17 years of arrogance, corruption, and poor governance, as so exemplified in the water and electricity sector, a select group would still persist in the folly of suggesting a third term for President Jagdeo. More recently, the unknown figures behind the initiative are being revealed thus exposing the hypocrisy of the PPP. General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar had claimed to know nothing of this initiative and stated that it was a wicked attempt to embarrass the PPP. The Nation is now well aware that one of the persons behind the initiative is a Central Committee member of the PPP. If indeed the initiative is a wicked one as previously stated by Mr. Ramotar, the nation awaits the disciplinary action of the type meted out to Mr. Ramjattan when it was alleged he breached the party line. The PNCR has stated its position before on this matter and sees the pursuit of this matter as a carefully orchestrated political gimmick to divert attention from the real issues affecting the people of Guyana.

JOPP ACTIVITIES FOR AN INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY CONTINUE UNABATED

The campaign being waged by the Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP), continued over the past week with several public meetings throughout the country. The aim of these meetings is to ensure that the public awareness programme is successfully carried out in preparation for the official launch of the Dossier which publication is imminent. It is, however, interesting that the Government is persisting in its diversionary agenda of an Inquiry by the Guyana Police Force (GPF). It should be obvious that Guyanese would have no confidence in such an inquiry.

The Office of the Leader of the Opposition was visited twice over the past week by Officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), of the Guyana Police Force requesting a copy of the list of persons allegedly killed by ‘Roger’ Khan. The law requires the Commissioner of Police to investigate, and where necessary have inquests held for, all unusual deaths in Guyana. Consequently, the Guyana Police Force ought to be the official custodian of such vital information. The strange request by these ranks of the Police Force must therefore raise serious questions of the work of the GPF over the past eight years.

The GPF must be well aware of the position of the PNCR and, indeed, all other opposition political parties in Guyana on this issue. Our position is that any investigation/inquiry into the atrocities committed over several years in Guyana resulting in the deaths of over 400 persons, allegedly by a “phantom squad” headed by ‘Roger’ Khan in collaboration with elements of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and sanctioned by Senior Government officials, ought to be conducted by an international body. The reasons are obvious.

Mr. Khan, in a full-page advertisement in the local newspapers, announced that he was carrying out these killings in collaboration with the security forces. The Police have not to date issued a denial. Mr. Sean Benfield, a serving member of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), was among the ‘Roger’ Khan group arrested with arms, ammunition and the, now infamous, “spy computer” at Good Hope on the East Coast of Demerara several years ago while in a special armour protected vehicle.

The investigation cannot be limited to persons killed by ‘Roger’ Khan, but should include all persons killed during the period of criminal activities to determine those who are responsible, including but not limited to ‘Roger’ Khan, the “phantom squad”, the GPF or state officials. The PNCR has also stated that such an investigation is unlikely to succeed in the absence of a proper witness protection programme to guarantee the security of those who have been invited to come forward with evidence.

Without prejudice to the PNCR’s stated position, however, the PNCR and Opposition Leader would still provide the police with a list containing the names of four hundred and fifty (450) citizens who were shot to death, unlawfully tortured and killed or died in suspicious circumstances between the period 1993 and 2009. The PNCR believes that it is the assignment of the Task Force to determine who were responsible for these deaths, whether by ‘Roger’ Khan or other persons.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday October 29, 2009