Police probing alleged child solicitation tape

– McCoy proceeds on leave

Government spokesman Dr Roger Luncheon yesterday said that the police are investigating the controversial child solicitation tape allegedly involving head of the Press and Publicity Department of Office of the President (OP) Kwame McCoy, who has since requested leave and has been granted same. Asked whether Mc Coy would be removed from his job at OP, Luncheon told the media at his weekly press conference yesterday that no determination would be made until the conclusion of the investigation. And with regard to McCoy’s status as a commissioner on the Rights of the Child Commission, Luncheon said that was a matter for the National Assembly.

Replacing McCoy as moderator during the media interaction yesterday was well-known journalist and former editor-in-chief of the Guyana Chronicle Sharief Khan.

Luncheon noted that since the surfacing of the tape McCoy has maintained that it was a fabrication and he called for due process and that the matter not be sensationalised by the media. McCoy had issued a statement before contents of the tape had been reported in the media, calling it a fabrication and an attempt to besmirch his good name.

He had then moved to the court and was granted an injunction against three media houses, preventing them from publishing the contents of the tape. However, Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang, who had granted the injunction, revoked the said order days later.

While the police had last week announced that they launched an investigation following a report of defamation of character by McCoy there has been no further word on that investigation. From all indications their search for the 15-year-old believed to be the child on the tape has been futile and it is not clear what direction their investigating is taking.

“The ardour with which the matter is being dealt with, particularly by the media and other entities is of interest,” Luncheon said yesterday, but he described the calls for an investigation as “reasonable” since questions have surfaced about the tape’s “authenticity…, issues surrounding entrapment, issues surrounding wire tapping and also extortion.”

Luncheon stated that the issues he mentioned were not being offered by the administration but rather he was “merely accounting to you for what is being said out there, that these are other factors…

“So it is not the government generating perspectives that are additional to what’s on the table. I merely brought them to you attention.”

In the context of these uncertainties, “the strident calls for various definitive interventions to be put in place [and] the media sensationalism can only undermine the commitment to due process and a full and unbiased investigation,” Luncheon said.

Asked if he and members of the government had listened to the tape, Luncheon said he heard parts of the taped conversation on television newscasts and he “would want to believe” that other members of the administration had also done the same.

As regards McCoy’s status Luncheon said,  “…we have to be careful. Number one, I would say at OP… the investigation once it is proceeding would determine what action would be taken, that is in terms of Mr McCoy’s employment at OP.”

In terms of his membership on the commission, Luncheon said OP, while having considerable authority, did not have the right to pronounce on the membership on the commission. Rather, Parliament would have to be approached.

The only commissioner to comment publicly on the issue was Vidyaratha Kissoon who said on his Blog that Article 225 of the Constitution provides for the removal of any commissioner on any of the commissions. He said the Constitution suggests that the Speaker of the National Assembly , who is the prescribed authority (Article 212 Y (4) ) can request of the President that the removal of the officer be investigated, following which a tribunal is established from within the Judicial Services Commission that could then investigate and make a recommendation.

Kissoon suggested that the National Assembly request the Speaker to ask the President to convene a tribunal to investigate this matter and recommended that McCoy “recuse himself from any of the activities of the commission until such time as the tribunal makes its findings available.”

He also said that it was “sickening if there is someone who was guiding the child if they were making any kind of recording to discuss a sexual relationship with an adult.”

Meanwhile, the PNCR said yesterday that it was unacceptable that McCoy should continue to hold on to such an important and sensitive position on the commission.  The party said while it understands that the commission, like others that already have members sworn in, has not yet started to function it still did not mean it would not receive and stand the scrutiny and deserve the confidence of Guyanese.

It pointed out that what comes out of the tape saga will depend on civil society and the full involvement of the people of Guyana ensuring that this matter does not die down. The PNCR said it believes that there are other methods to deal with this matter through the parliament and since McCoy is the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s representative on the commission that ministry has to execute its influence on the matter and not waste taxpayers’ money.

Meantime, Men Em-  powerment Network (MEN) said yesterday that sexual exploitation of minors violates biblical principles.

In a press release issued last evening, MEN said it had noted the concerns expressed and believed they were “indicative of an abhorrence of sexual engagement between an adult and a juvenile. We believe that this position is consistent with biblical truths.”

MEN said that adult sexual exploitation of any minor in any form negatively affects all parties involved, family life, social order and national prosperity. “We denounce any relationship that endangers a child’s entitlement to the type of nurture that enhances personal development consistent with God’s purposes for humanity.” the release said.

As a result, the release said, MEN offers counselling to all parties involved in and affected by this form of exploitation.

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