PPP REACTION TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING REPORT BASELESS AND UNJUSTIFIED--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 9 July 2010




SUMMARY:
• The People’s National Congress Reform extends sympathy to the sorrowing wife, children and other relatives and friends of Mr. Gerald Broomes;
• The second meeting of the PNCR General Council, for 2010, will be held at the Party headquarters, Sophia, on Saturday 10 July 2010, starting at 10:00hrs;
• Our Party has in recent years consistently called for modern and appropriate training/retraining of all of our policemen and policewomen and we remain convinced that such action is central to the transformation of the GPF into a modern twenty first century service;
• The PNCR urges the Jagdeo Administration that, instead of voicing empty rhetoric and accusing the writers of the report of gross inaccuracies, they should immediately conduct an objective and impartial survey to determine how extensively these conditions persist;
• The PNCR does not, and will never condone the promotion of racial hostility, whether by the media or by any other means.

CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY ON THE PASSING OF GERALD BROOMES

The People’s National Congress Reform extends sympathy to the sorrowing wife, children and other relatives and friends of Mr. Gerald Broomes, Land Surveyor, Barrister-at-Law and former Land Court Judge, who died last Monday 5 July 2010, after a brief illness. Mr. Broomes had a long and distinguished career in the public service of Guyana during which he exemplified the qualities of erudition, discipline and hard work. The PNCR recognised these qualities when it proposed him to be a member of the, still to be appointed, Public Procurement Commission.

His passing has once again left a void not only in his family but also in the Administration of Justice in Guyana.

May his soul rest in peace!

PNCR SECOND GENERAL COUNCIL FOR 2010

The second meeting of the PNCR General Council, for 2010, will be held at the Party Headquarters, Sophia, on Saturday 10 July 2010, starting at 10:00hrs. The major items for consideration will be the report of the General Secretary, the Address by the Party Leader and the consideration of reports from the Regions on the preparation for the 25th Anniversary of the death of Party Founder-Leader and former President, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. It is expected that the Party Leader’s Address will deal with prevailing developments in Guyana including the issue of alliances and coalition. The General Council will also discuss the Party’s programme and activities on to 2011. The General Council is the highest forum after the Party’s Biennial Congress.

THE PNCR SALUTES THE GPF ON THEIR 171ST ANNIVERSARY BUT URGE THAT THEY GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER IN THE NEXT DECADE

The PNCR salutes the Guyana Police Force (G.P.F.), particularly those dedicated and hardworking members, on its 171st Anniversary. As this vital institution begins yet another decade of service to the people of Guyana, the PNCR challenges it to designate the decade 2010-2020 as “The Decade of Enhancing Our Human Resources”.

While the Organisation celebrates this significant milestone we note with sadness the recent tragic events that have led to the death of several policemen. The PNCR extends sincere condolences to the family of 19 year police constable, Vickram Singh who was gunned down in cold blood last Friday evening (2nd July 2010) in Lamaha Springs, Georgetown. The Party urges the GPF to tirelessly investigate this death and to do all within its lawful mandate to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly attack to justice. The Party conveys its condolences to the families of the two policemen in Berbice who died in strange circumstances and hopes that a proper investigation would soon be completed.

The Party had hoped that the celebration of this Anniversary would have gone by with all members of the GPF striving to avoid those behaviour patterns that have earned them widespread condemnation and have contributed to the loss of public confidence. Regrettably, the Party is compelled to condemn the shooting of seventeen-year-old Osafie Johnson on Sunday July 4, by a policeman while on a search for alleged wanted man called “Cobra”. According to the teenager and other eye witnesses, the Policeman who shot and later arrested him knew that he was not the wanted man. Eyewitnesses also claim that the young man was shot in his back. The young man who is in a critical condition at the Georgetown Hospital has also stated that the said policeman had previously mistakenly arrested him for “Cobra”, so he is convinced that the policemen on the operation were well aware that he was not the wanted man. Questions as to the motive for the shooting must of necessity arise. Residents are convinced that there is more than meets the eye and the PNCR puts the GPF on notice that it would be resolutely pursuing this matter to ensure that justice is served.

During the same incident, former footballer, Dexter Bentick was also shot by the police, allegedly, by accident. It is significant that this young man’s first comment to the media was to the effect that the police were unprofessional as many young children were playing on the road where the gunfire erupted. The PNCR calls on the Police Commissioner to ensure an impartial investigation of the conduct of his ranks during this latest operation, conducted one day after a massive celebratory parade by the Police in Georgetown aimed at restoring public confidence.

Our Party has in recent years consistently called for modern and appropriate training/retraining of all of our policemen and policewomen and we remain convinced that such action is central to the transformation of the GPF into a modern twenty first century service.

Recent events involving members of our Guyana Police Force have shown, in most graphic ways, how urgent the enhancement of the Force’s human resources is. This training/retraining we believe must start at the recruitment stage.

Recommendation # 31 of the Report of the Disciplined Forces Commission states that “The minimum educational criterion for recruitment should be raised from a sound primary education to at least a sound secondary education”. The PNCR fully endorses this recommendation and we call on the Jagdeo Regime to announce a date for the coming into effect of this recommendation.

At the time of recruitment, we also recommend that a psychological analysis be done on every potential rank.

Recommendation #21 of the same report states “Career attractiveness should be enhanced by e.g. the review of salary structure and substantial increases in remuneration”. The Party also endorses this recommendation and we call on the Jagdeo Regime to set a finite time limit within which the salaries and other benefits of members of the police Force will be enhanced.

Once recruited, our policemen and policewomen must be exposed to all the modern techniques of investigative policing, which are driven by hard and relentless intelligence as opposed to confrontations and brutality. The unacceptably high percentage of unsolved serious crimes is, we feel, largely due to the lack of proper training of the members of the GPF. This is not an attack by the Party on the GPF, rather it is an unequivocal attack on the Jagdeo Regime for not having the foresight or indeed the political will to invest in the most fundamental and important asset of the GPF namely the policemen and policewomen.

Until the Jagdeo Regime gives the GPF the financial resources, to firstly attract and then train and retain its members, our country will continue to see more unlawful shootings by members of the GPF; more unsolved crimes; and, more unnecessary confrontations with the public, which have the debilitating effect of an increasingly uncooperative public and an increasing sense of helplessness by victims of crime.

PPP REACTION TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING REPORT BASELESS AND UNJUSTIFIED

The PNCR is convinced that the vehement reaction by Members of the Government to the U.S State Department 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is baseless and unjustified. The report clearly indicates areas of Government initiative, but cites the underlying reason for Guyana remaining in the same position on the graph, over the reporting period. The major reason is the failure of the Government to present constructive strategies for eliminating Human Trafficking and, more particularly, for addressing the conditions of forced prostitution and forced labour.

The report explicitly presents the prevailing conditions, the Government’s response over the reporting period, and the crucial areas that need to be urgently addressed if there is to be any significant impact on Human Trafficking in Guyana.

With regard to the existing conditions, the report alludes to the fact that:

 There is trafficking within the country which includes foreign victims.
 Trafficking is prevalent in brothels, mining camps, rum shops and Chinese restaurants.
 There is potential for domestic servitude as a result of poor children being sent to live with family members or acquaintances.
 Victims are reluctant to make reports for fear of retribution, resettlement to abusive human situations or generally lack of awareness of the crime.
 Amerindian and Brazilian women are vulnerable groups.
 Subsequent to a study conducted, it was reported that some 1000 children were immediately withdrawn from exploitive child labour in areas including logging, mining, and saw-milling.

The PNCR urges the Jagdeo Administration that, instead of voicing empty rhetoric and accusing the writers of the report of gross inaccuracies, they should immediately conduct an objective and impartial survey to determine how extensively these conditions persist. Pursuant to this, measures should have been implemented to effectively stem the flow of trafficking.

Why would the authors of the report present falsified information?

The PNCR warns the Government that, rather than continue their usual antics of denial and their paranoia for attacking the messenger, they should take resolute and positive action to make significant inroads towards stemming the conditions which contribute to the continuance of human trafficking in Guyana.

It is instructive to note the response of the Government and the rationale for Guyana being placed on the Tier 2 Watch List:

• The Government has not fully complied with the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking and there has been no visible evidence of them making any significant efforts.
• Over the reporting period, there has been no prosecution, conviction nor punishment of any trafficking offenders under the 5-year old anti-trafficking law.
• NGOs identified only 4 victims of trafficking, 2 who were proactively identified by prison officials.
• No substantial resources were provided for victim protection and local anti-trafficking groups.
• No suspected traffickers were charged, thus limiting the level of safety and protection for the victims.
• Despite some tangible steps to raise awareness of human trafficking and the establishment of focal point group, the Government has discouraged discussions on the development of effective strategies to combat this phenomenon.

It is evident, contrary to the claims of the Administration, that the report acknowledges the efforts made by the Government. However, what it emphasizes is the slow response and the negligence of the Government to pursue the perpetrators and impose the penalties, as outlined in the Act of 2005. The victims are left at the mercy of the traffickers and, to date, there is no evidence that their cases were being heard.

The PNCR is not deceived by the claims of the Administration, since the available evidence confirms that there is a lack of commitment and political will to pursue and bring human traffickers, like narco- traffickers, to justice and deserved punishment.

The PNCR advises the Government that if they wish to win any credibility for their efforts, the following recommendations must be addressed:

• The courts and justice system need to be more proactive.
• Suspected traffickers, regardless of affiliation and status, must be charged and brought before the Courts.
• Law enforcement agencies must be given the necessary resources, including training and suitable transportation, to enable them to move actively against human traffickers.
• Victims must feel confident that efforts are being made to raise the level of their protection and safety.
• An aggressive and credible public education campaign must be implemented to sensitise and inform the public, particularly in hinterland mining and forestry communities, what to look for in support of the effort to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.
• Secure and confidential systems must be installed to encourage reporting of traffickers by the public.
• Witness protection must be demonstrated to be effective to encourage persons to come forward to testify against traffickers.
• The protection and policing of our borders must be strengthened to curtail human and narco- trafficking.

The Jagdeo regime should be prepared to learn from Tier 1 countries, such as our sister Caricom States, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname as well as the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The PNCR recognises and accepts that the eradication of human trafficking requires a non partisan collaborative effort by all segments of society. The Party remains committed to play its part, but the Guyanese proverb, “One hand can’t clap”, adequately reflects the Government’s typical unilateral and dictatorial approach in responding to this grave issue of National and International concern.

THE PPP SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO REFER ANY MATTER OF MEDIA TO THE ERC

The recent report that the Office of the President has referred certain publications, appearing in the private media, to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) for possibly breaches of the law relating to promoting racial hostility, is ludicrous, given the conduct of the State Media, particularly, over the past weeks, in abusing their privileged positions for the dissemination of misinformation and libelous publications.

The first issue is the constitutionality of the Ethnic Relations Commission. The PNCR has repeatedly publicized the reasons why the present ERC does not satisfy the constitutional requirements and is, therefore, unconstitutional. One would have expected that the first priority of the Office of the President would have been to ensure that the commission satisfies those requirements, in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana. Of what legal effect and value would be the pronouncement of an unconstitutional body? Only recently the PNCR refused to participate in an announced consultation by this body on the grounds of its unconstitutionality and also urged Guyanese not to recognize it. Any purported pronouncement by this body affecting the liberty and or rights of Guyanese will, therefore, be vigorously opposed by the PNCR in the Courts of Law in Guyana.

The second issue is the continued misuse of the State media by the PPP administration, which should have placed an obligation upon them to first set the correct examples for others to emulate. Guyanese have witnessed the continued vulgarity by the State Television Station, NCN, the monopoly NCN Radio Stations and the state owned Chronicle. When, what should be serious news casts or news reports are converted into lies on political opponents, deliberately intended to sow seeds of dissention or damage the character of public figures, Guyana has indeed reached the depth of degeneracy. Over the past weeks, the state media has been used to spread false information of proceedings in political parties opposed to the Government, and to damage the character of persons such as Mr. C.N. Sharma, Mr. Peter Ramsaroop, Caribbean Consultant, Mr. Hartley Henry and others. The monopoly of State owned Television, NCN, at Linden, continues as the Government refuses to pass the relevant Broadcast Legislation and to establish a National Broadcast Authority as agreed since 2003. Such a body would have had, as a routine function, the regulation of the media. The Government, however, wants political control of the media as well as political control over the adjudication of media matters. A glaring example was the preposterous adjudication of the C.N. Sharma’s Channel 6, by President Jagdeo, that resulted in the suspension of its licence for two months. The priority of the Office of the President should have, therefore, been the establishment of the Broadcast Authority after passing the necessary legislation.

The third issue is the concern of the Office of the President over publications which can generate racial hostility in violation of the Racial Hostility (Amendment) Act 2002. According to media reports, HPS, Dr. Roger Luncheon referred specifically to articles in the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News in which OP is “contending the authors have been promoting racial insecurity, advocating race-based politics and making vile allegations of racist behaviour against members of the government.”

We are also advised that, “the ERC Chairman assured that the commission was taking a proactive approach to the situation and had circulated the letters and articles to commission members and the ERC lawyer.”

The PNCR does not, and will never condone the promotion of racial hostility, whether by the media or by any other means. However, there should be a clear distinction between the promotion of racial hostility and the exposure of racial discrimination, which has become a feature of the Jagdeo PPP Administration. This phenomenon has been exposed by the PNCR in many past media releases. It has been exposed by the UN Rapporteur a few years ago and it has been recently exposed by the McDougal report. The recent concern by the Government to have the words “afro-descendants” removed from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), draft policy document on gender and equality for development illustrates the PPP paranoia about any reference to the factual situation in Guyana.

While Bishop Juan Edgill had demonstrated an interesting activism in responding to the directions of Luncheon, the Nation did not see the same activism in dealing with inflammatory and racial statements by President Jagdeo himself at Babu John during the death anniversary of the late Cheddi Jagan. What about the long made complaint by the GB&GWU to the ERC concerning the behaviour of the BCGI towards its members?

It is this kind of partisan behaviour that has ensured that the noble objectives of the Constitutional Reform Commission are aborted. The PPP/C is put on notice, however, that the PNCR will not condone any further attempts to muzzle and control the media.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 9 July 2010