PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform At the Press Conference on Thursday December 19th, 2002 In the Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.



SUMMARY:

• It is more than two weeks since the arrest of the several felons found armed to the teeth with prohibited weapons. However, the instruction handed down from Freedom House and the Office of the President simultaneously is that under no circumstances should these men be charged

• The high tech spy computer must have been bought with the approval of the PPP/C Government of Guyana despite Dr. Luncheon’s denial.

• It has been confirmed that Shaheed Khan is protected by the Government though he is wanted by the FBI in the United States for crimes involving prohibited weapons.

• The truth of the Guyana Police problem is that the government does not intend to appoint Mr. Winston Felix as Commissioner of Police.

• The PPP/C propaganda on the crime communiqué is all the more disgusting when we reveal the fact that it was the PPP/C who introduced the so called ‘Rohee rule’ which in essence states that the PPP/C insists on the right to renegotiate any aspect of the communiqué even if it was previously agreed.

THE GREAT “PHANTOM SQUAD”SCANDAL:

It has now been over two weeks since the arrest of the several felons found in the armoured vehicle, armed to the teeth with up-to-date prohibited weapons and other military equipment, as well as sophisticated and specialised computer and other electronic gadgetry.

These persons have not been prosecuted despite the public cries of outrage from all thinking and responsible quarters of the society. It is mind-boggling that the authorities claim that they still cannot determine one single charge to bring against these men.

The PNCR is reliably informed that the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions promptly rendered their advice on this matter. They were firmly of the opinion that a range of charges should be laid. The PNCR is also reliably informed that there has been tremendous political interference and pressure brought to bear on the hierarchy of the Guyana Police Force not to prosecute these men. The instruction handed down from Freedom House and the Office of the President simultaneously is that under no circumstances should the men be charged.

Constable Belfield has claimed in sworn affidavits that he was at the time of his apprehension on a “special assignment”.
We ask the questions that are on the lips of every citizen:

 Whose “special assignment” was the infamous Constable Benfield of the Black Clothes on?
 Why was the arsenal of up-to-date prohibited weapons and sophisticated specialised illegal equipment utilized?
 Who or what was the intended target for this lethally armed and specially equipped squad?
 Why was it necessary to link with known felons like Shaheed Khan a.k.a Roger Khan and the “Contractor” to carry out this assignment?
 Why has the Guyana Police Force, which is the constitutional authority responsible for law enforcement, not acknowledged that they authorised and conducted special assignments such as that which it is claimed were being conducted?
 Why has not a single charge been laid against any of those arrested to date?

THE SPY COMPUTER:

The PNCR reiterates its claims that the hi-tech computer was obtained from the United States of America as a result of Government-to-Government request. We support our claim by stating that the manufacturer has been identified and the specifications obtained. The system can, among other things, “target specific numbers or randomly screen GSM mobile communication. Conversations are monitored and logged simultaneously to voice and data logger for storage and retrieval”. This computer could not have been bought at a price of US$450,000 without the approval of both the Governments of Guyana and the United States. We quote from the manufacturer’s user requirement to this effect, “We may sell the unit only if you represent a government or law enforcement agency or are selling to a government or law enforcement agency in your country…We will 100% verify it and also require a letter certifying that.”

The effect of the above statement is that the computer could not have been bought without the approval of the PPP/C Government of Guyana. Therefore, Dr. Luncheon was being less than truthful when he swore that the Government has no knowledge of this computer.

The Commissioner of Police (Ag.) may have been honest when he said, in answer to a Journalist’s question recently, that the Guyana Police Force is not engaged in the unlawful and unconstitutional activity of phone tapping and interception.

MR. SHAHEED KHAN A.KA. ROGER KHAN and “THE CONTRACTOR”:

Available and confirmed information indicate that the person calling himself Shaheed Khan has a chequered past. He is said to reside in Guyana in the Bel Air/New Haven area. He claims to operate two companies in Guyana: Dream Works Development Inc. and Classic Developers & Contractors. In Affidavits in support of the Habeas Corpus application to spring him from detention it was attested that he is the managing director of these companies and is a building contractor.

The PNCR is in possession of documentation which show that in 2002 September Mr. Khan swore to a declaration that the Companies Dream Works Development and Classic Developers & Contractors ceased to exist as they carried on no business whatsoever. He requested that these companies be exempt from payment of taxes. Yet, in 2002 December, Mr. Khan is using his status as a director of those very companies to have himself released from lawful custody. Mr. Khan has obviously perjured himself.

It has also been confirmed that Mr. Khan is wanted in the United States for crimes involving prohibited weapons. Let us see whether he too will claim to be on “special assignment” as a defence. In any event the PNCR and the people of Guyana expect that he will be charged and prosecuted in a court of law in Guyana.

The hierarchy of the Guyana Police Force should be ashamed of themselves. They seem to be squandering whatever remains of their credibility by not pressing charges against these men, using the strange excuse of “refining” the statements of the GDF ranks.

Over the past weeks the media has reported several instances of persons apprehended with illegal firearms and ammunition. They have all been charged and placed before the Courts. This should be the norm in any country where the Rule of Law is supposed to be supreme. We call on the remaining decent, professional and conscientious members of the GPF to be faithful to their constitutional mandate and reassert their authority under the Laws of Guyana.

WHEN WILL WINSTON FELIX BE APPOINTED COMMISSIONER OF POLICE?

The PPP/C have continued to attempt to deceive the public by claiming that there is need for PNCR to be in the National Assembly for Commissioner of Police to be appointed and for other members of the GPF to be promoted.

The PNCR has made it clear that notwithstanding our principled and resolute boycott of the National Assembly, in response to the Jagdeo regime’s continued invention of obstacles to the appointment of the Parliamentary Management Committee and the Committees specified by the Constitutional amendments (including the Appointive Committee), we will honour our constitutional obligations insofar as they relate to the functions of the Leader of the Opposition.

The truth is that the Government does not intend to appoint Mr. Felix as Commissioner of Police. Messrs Jagdeo and Gajraj seem to be underestimating the intelligence of Mr. Felix and members of the GPF by their vulgar attempts to deceive and coerce them.

Mr. Felix has demonstrated his suitability and qualification for appointment as Commissioner of Police by his outstanding performance on the DFID funded programme prepared and managed by the UK Metropolitan Police. Yet the Jagdeo clique has been contriving every facile excuse for delaying his appointment to the post of Commissioner of Police. Surely the UK Government cannot be accepting Mr. Jagdeo’s lame excuses? The Guyanese people don’t!

THE PNCR INVOLVEMENT IN THE WORK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY:

The PNCR wishes it to be known, to those who persist in distorting our principled boycott of the Sittings of the National Assembly, that we have continued to honour our other obligations to the National Assembly by, for example, our active participation in the work of the Public Accounts Committee.

In addition, as a consequence of the recent proroguing of Parliament, the PNCR has only this week participated in the work of the National Assembly by enabling the reappointment of the Committee of Selection and all of the Sessional Select Committees of the National Assembly.

THE SOCIAL PARTNERS AND THE CRIME COMMUNIQUE:

The improvement in the political climate in Guyana depends, among other things, on the development of trust, mutual confidence and good faith. In that light, it is extremely disturbing to observe the content and insinuations of recent press comments by persons speaking on behalf of Freedom House and the PPP/C regime.

The PNCR wishes to make it clear that it entered the negotiations in good faith and seriousness and at no stage in the discussions did we encounter rancour or unnecessary controversy. We insisted on our position of principle that the Communiqué must place the national crime situation in the context of the overall thrust for good governance in Guyana. We have argued that the reform of the Guyana Police Force must be preceded and supported by a public inquiry.

It is alarming to hear the PPP/C, as is their usual tactic, allege that the prolonged nature of the negotiation was somehow the fault of the PNCR. This propaganda is even more disgusting when we reveal the fact that it was the PPP/C who introduced the so called ‘Rohee rule’ which in essence states that the PPP/C insists on the right to renegotiate any aspect of the Communiqué which was previously agreed.

The rush of the PPP/C to try and score cheap and dishonest propaganda points, rather than put the interests of Guyana first, is a most discouraging sign and does not augur well for the nation. The PPP/C always seems to emphasise form over substance and abuse rather than compromise. It is easy to cast blame on others whereas it requires wisdom and graciousness to arrive at a consensus.

The PNCR will continue to work for a consensus on the national crime and security problems and will not be deterred by the shenanigans of the Freedom House propaganda machine.

THE CRIME & SECURITY SITUATION

The recent events indicate that the anti-crime measures so far implemented have been ineffective, inappropriate or insufficient to cope with the situation. The Commissioner of Police must therefore seriously review the measures so far implemented, including the manner in which some sections of the Force have been carrying out their duties, with a view to taking corrective action.

The PPP/C Government cannot escape its responsibility for National Security. Many of the measures recommended by the Crime communiqué were available to the Government long before the Social Partners initiative, but, the Government, for reasons, which still befuddles the mind, adamantly refused to implement them. They can still be implemented if the Government is serious about the crime and security situation.

Those measures which are appropriate, in the opinion of the Commissioner of Police, can also be implemented and the Police Commissioner will have the full support of the PNCR, provided that, in their implementation:

 There is no violation of the citizen’s fundamental rights;
 There are measures in place to control police excesses; and
 There are measures to give speedy redress to citizens who are victims of unlawful acts by the Police.

WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO SUPPRESS THE GPSU?

The use of the police and bully tactics to frustrate the activities of the GPSU represent a new level of paranoia and fascism in our public life. In our opinion, the police denial of permission to hold the GPSU Rally outside of St Andrews Church on the spurious grounds that it would disrupt traffic is laughable. What is even more despicable is that, even though the Rally was eventually held within the compound of the St Andrews churchyard, Police still sought to intimidate and threaten the GPSU.

The use of the police to conduct overt harassment of union activity in this way is something of which the Police Commissioner (Ag) should be ashamed. In our view, the Police force has no right or justification for denying the GPSU and its members their legitimate constitutional right to Freedom of Assembly and Expression as well as their right to peaceful protest.

The incompetent and corrupt Mr. Gagraj strikes again! When will this Nation be relieved of his presence?

The Jagdeo regime has become more desperate and is showing clearly its dangerous drift towards fascism and dictatorship.

JAGDEO MUST GO!

The PNCR once again calls upon Mr. Jagdeo to put the future of the Nation first by quietly resigning to make way for someone with the competence, capacity and demeanour for the Presidency of Guyana. We hope that it is not beyond the capacity of the PPP/C to find a suitable replacement for Mr. Jagdeo!

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM THE PNCR:

The Christmas festival is one that speaks of rebirth, renewal and divine intervention in human affairs. It is, therefore, an appropriate time for all of us to include in our prayers the need for guidance, understanding and tolerance.

Christmas is a season which we celebrate with our family, relatives and close friends. We traditionally use this time to reach out beyond our current difficulties and problems in goodwill to others.

This will be our last Press Conference before Christmas and therefore we wish to take this opportunity to wish all of you members of the media and your families and loved ones a Peaceful and Happy Christmas Season. May the true spirit of Christmas be exemplified by all Guyanese as we welcome the Birth of Christ in traditional style.

The PNCR wishes all Guyanese at home and abroad a very thoughtful and reflective Christmas season.

Do have a Happy Holiday.



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
December 19th, 2002