Jagdeo libel suit… Kissoon says racism findings supported by UN expert’s report

Newspaper columnist Freddie Kissoon on Monday said that he relied on the report of United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues Gay McDougall to substantiate his conclusions that former president Bharrat Jagdeo was an ideological racist.

He was at the time continuing his testimony in the High Court in the $10M libel case brought against him and the Kaieteur News by Jagdeo.
Kissoon, testifying before Justice Brassington Reynolds, stated that the findings of the report revealed that the Jagdeo-led government allowed Indians to dominate.

Kissoon, led in evidence by his attorney Nigel Hughes, said that he made reference to the 2008 McDougall report in his research essay, entitled ‘Ethnic Power and Ideological Racism: Comparing Presidencies in Guyana.’ The essay has already been admitted into evidence.

He said that the McDougall report is an UN-sponsored research into race discrimination and racial practices in Guyana. He said that the researcher does work for the UN and is considered to be a race relations expert.

According to Kissoon, the report was published and handed over to the Guyana government during Jagdeo’s tenure in office.

Jagdeo’s lead lawyer, Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos, objected to reference being made to race relations and race practices by the witness. He submitted that whatever is relied upon must be referenced, while adding that the front page of the document “speaks to other things.”
His objection was overruled.

Kissoon, after being shown and acknowledging a copy of the report, began to read specific paragraphs. De Santos again objected but Hughes submitted that his client was merely identifying his research and the material it contains.

Reading another section, Kissoon told the court that he relied on the report because it focused on how the Indians were allowed to dominate.

The report was first mentioned in September, 2011, during the cross-examination of Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon.

On that occasion, the report was tendered for identification purposes. The defence later signalled to the court that McDougall would be testifying via an audio-video link.

Meanwhile, Kissoon also continued testimony about irregularities at state institutions in which police investigations were not conducted, especially in cases where persons of Indian-descent were implicated.

He spoke of a report of irregularities committed by the Secretary to the Treasury Neermal Rekha, which was submitted to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commis-sioner General by the internal audit department.

De Santos objected on the grounds that there was nothing to indicate that Rekha was guilty of any irregularities.

The senior counsel stated that Rekha worked at the Ministry of Finance while the document in question concerns the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Rekha is not answerable,” he stressed, while adding that what was being testified about was irrelevant.

Hughes, in response, said that Kissoon is testifying that this was some of the information he relied upon for his research. He said that the report is being used as a source document. He added that Rekha is specifically mentioned as one the officers involved.

De Santos interjected, saying that all he is saying is that Rekha was never charged. He stressed that nowhere in the report is it stated that Rekha was guilty of any criminal offence.

He added that the report is saying that dates were changed and things backdated and stressed that this is why the report requested that a person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be questioned.

The judge, in response to the arguments raised by both sides, said that the primary thesis was that these matters were not investigated by the police. As a result, he said that he would overrule the objection. De Santos later made the observation, after Kissoon was shown a copy of the report, that it was unsigned.

Hughes told the court that he was tendering a document relied upon by Kissoon in his research.

The judge overruled De Santos’ objection, while adding that the court noted that the document is unsigned.

The report specifically mentioned Rekha in the discrepancies and irregularities. It was stated that the Commissioner of Police should be called in to investigate the matter but Kissoon said based on what he knows Rekha was never charged.

He said that he went to police headquarters Eve Leary to a particular officer to ascertain if Rekha was being investigated but did not get an answer.
Kissoon, Kaieteur News Editor Adam Harris and the National Media and Publishing Company Ltd, publisher of Kaieteur News, are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was prompted by statements contained in the June 28, 2010 article ‘King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference.’
Besides Luncheon, two Office of the President media monitors have testified for Jagdeo, who has never attended any of the hearings.

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