The main opposition PNCR-1G yesterday called on the government to withdraw Kwame McCoy as a nominee for membership on the Rights of the Child Commission, citing “grave concerns” about his suitability to serve on the constitutional body.
In a strongly-worded statement, the PNCR-1G said McCoy could not be considered impartial, while noting that both the party and its members have received countless calls of concern that testify to public doubt about his integrity. “The nomination of Kwame McCoy…is an insult to all decent minded Guyanese and the latest illustration of PPP/C arrogance and lack of concern for the views of Guyanese,” the party declared in the statement, while urging organisations that have expressed concerns to make them public.
McCoy, who is the Office of the President (OP) press officer and a PPP/C Region Four RDC Councillor, is among 15 nominees who have been selected based on submissions by approved entities consulted by the Committee on Appointments, in accordance with the Constitution. The nominees are to be presented to the National Assembly for approval today, where McCoy’s inclusion will likely receive objections by the parliamentary opposition parties during the debate on the committee’s report.
The Rights of the Child Commission is one of the commissions established by article 212 G (1) of the Constitution. The Constitu-tion also provides for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Services which has responsibility for children’s affairs, to be entitled to nominate member(s) to the commission. McCoy was nominated by the Ministry of Human Services and the PNCR called on Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand to withdraw McCoy as the nominee of the ministry.
Minister Manickchand declined to comment when contacted last evening.
The PNCR explained that McCoy’s nomination flies in the face of Article 212 G (2), which stipulates a “Commission shall be independent, impartial and shall discharge its functions fairly.” According to the party, it is public knowledge that McCoy “is a rabid member and/or supporter of the PPP/C and his numerous public utterances, in the print and electronic media, makes it clear that he is merely a mouthpiece of the PPP/C and the President.” As a result, it said “he can neither be considered to be independent nor impartial.”
The party also noted that the letter requesting a nominee from the Human Services Ministry indicated that the candidate “must also have earned public respect and be of unquestionable honesty and integrity.” In this regard, the statement said, both the party and its individual members received calls from persons from all walks of life, expressing grave concerns about the nomination. It added that these concerns “testify that there is the public perception that [McCoy] is no exemplar and has not earned the respect or regard” of the public.
Further, the PNCR also pointed out that while the Constitution does not expressly state that the ministries nominees be employees, the rationale for them having members on the commission is that the candidates would liaise between the body and the respective ministries. In this vein, the party said McCoy’s nomination offends the spirit of the Constitution.
According to the PNCR, last June both ministries were asked to nominate one person each to serve on the Rights of the Child Commission, along with the thirteen other members nominated by other agreed entities. To this end, in July the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security was requested by letter to have the ministry nominate a person to serve on the commission.
The party said that in January, after the Committee on Appointments received the names of the other 14 nominees to serve on the commission, it received a letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Human Services Ministry informing the committee that the ministry’s previous nominee was withdrawn and the new nominee was McCoy. However, the party said, members of the committee never saw a copy of the letter from the Permanent Secretary naming the previous nominee. It said enquiries about the previous letter’s contents were met with a strange response from Committee Chairperson Gail Teixeira, who indicated that it was never received by the Secretary to the Committee.
At the level of the Committee on Appointments, the representatives of the PNCR-1G strenuously opposed McCoy’s nomination, the party said, noting that the PPP/C members of the committee even agreed to an adjournment to reconsider. However, in February at the next committee meeting, the PNCR said, the PPP/C members all reaffirmed their support of McCoy’s nomination.