APNU concerned over composition, terms for Walter Rodney inquiry

The main opposition APNU has voiced concerns over the composition and terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) recently set up to determine how political activist Dr. Walter Rodney was killed.

The coalition’s concerns were highlighted yesterday by APNU executive Basil Williams, who suggested that government has stacked the deck to achieve a specific outcome from the CoI.

Williams, who is also Chair-man of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), which is the largest constituent of APNU, also revealed that the executive of the party has not yet decided on its participation in the COI.

“We would therefore make that assessment as to whether it is necessary for us to participate in such an inquiry which seems to be loaded in the first instance,” he said at an APNU press conference.

Basil Williams
Basil Williams

Last week President Donald Ramotar appointed the three-member commission. Sir Richard Cheltenham, a Queen’s Counsel and Barbadian national is the Chairman of the Commis-sion, which is also made up of Jamaican Queen’s Counsel (QC) Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad and Tobago Senior Counsel (SC) Seenath Jairam.

Williams yesterday questioned the appointment of Jairam, in light of the fact that he was a lawyer for the PPP/C administration in its court challenge to the opposition-led 2012 budget cuts.

“Given the very sensitive political nature of this Commis-sion, the Partnership would have hoped that the PPP/C Adminis-tration would have selected Commissioners that are politically neutral, and individuals with no links to the PPP/C Govern-ment so as to at least give the perception of impartiality,” Williams said, while reading from a prepared APNU statement.

Williams also questioned government’s motives behind a number of the Terms of Reference for the Commission, which he said seem skewed to give a PPP/C outcome and also discounts the fact that Rodney might have been responsible for how he met his demise. “We have some difficulties with the Terms of Reference…,” he said. “When you look at the Terms of Reference, it seems that they already know the answer…it seems government desires a specific outcome,” he said.

According to the February 8, 2014 Official Gazette, the Commissioners are to examine the facts and circumstances immediately prior, at the time of and subsequent to the death of Dr. Rodney in order to determine as far as possible who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in his death. The Commissioners are to enquire into the cause of the explosion in which Dr. Rodney died, including whether it was an act of terrorism and if so who were the perpetrators.

Further, the Gazette said that the Commissioners are to “specifically examine” the role, if any, which now deceased Guyana Defence Force member Gregory Smith played in Rodney’s death and if so to inquire into who may have “counseled, procured, aided and or abetted” him to do so, including facilitating his departure from Guyana after Dr. Rodney’s death.

It was also stated that the Commissioners are to examine and report on the actions and activities of the State, such as the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia and those who were in command and superintendence of these agencies , to determine whether they were tasked with surveillance of and the carrying out of actions and whether they did execute those tasks and carried out those actions against the political opposition for the period January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1980.

Another area of concern highlighted yesterday was that persons who were a part of the killing could turn CoI witness and would be given immunity. The Commission has been advertising for members of the public who are interested in testifying before the Commission to submit witness statements.

More in Local News

default placeholder

‘Prime’ suspects in Corentyne triple murder held

Police yesterday arrested seven more persons in connection with last week’s shocking triple murder at Black Bush Polder including two prime suspects.

Sanjay’s Jewelry Store on Sheriff Street

Bandits raid Sanjay’s jewellery store

Four bandits carted off millions of dollars in cash and jewellery on Saturday night after holding the owner of Sanjay’s Jewellery at gunpoint at his Sheriff Street home.

Wavel Sabsook

Electrician dies in Diamond crash

An electrician died just after midnight yesterday after he was thrown out of the car he was in after the driver lost control and crashed into a fence at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

default placeholder

Committee agrees on candidates for Public Procurement Commission

Five persons to serve on the long-awaited Public Procurement Commission (PPC) have been selected and a report from the body responsible for the shortlisting, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be presented to the National Assembly at next week Thursday’s sitting, sources say.

default placeholder

Four months on, Harmon’s China trip has produced no results

Four months after a controversial trip to China, there has been no favourable outcome on two major issues that Minister of State Joseph Harmon engaged in.

Leekha Rambrich

Drastic fall in rice sowing over El Niño – Rambrich

The El Niño dry weather has resulted in a drastic decline in rice cultivation this year, especially in Leguan and the Essequibo Coast and in the Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary creeks.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: