No cutting corners on due process in Evan Persaud investigation

-Luncheon

While saying there would be a thorough investigation of University of Guyana (UG) lecturer Evan Persaud and the claims that he engaged in victimisation and inappropriate behaviour, Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon is assuring that no corners would be cut on due process.

“Let the chips fall where they may,” he said, responding to questioning by this newspaper on Thursday about the accusations against Persaud, who is the head of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and a member of the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC).

UG’s Pro-Chancellor Dr Prem Misir on Tuesday had stated that Persaud would not be denied due process. Persaud, who belongs to the Faculty of Technology, remains on the job as the investigation is conducted and has remained silent since the allegations surfaced. In official letters of complaint seen by Stabroek News, some students have accused Persaud of victimization and intimidation, saying he promised to ensure they would not get jobs while he was around. “I am advised that the matter is under investigation and this gentleman would get due process,” Dr Luncheon said shortly after his weekly press conference recently. Asked about whether the government was concerned about the allegations Persaud faced, particularly as he heads a state body, Dr Luncheon responded that the government is not one that cuts corners on due process; “so you had better be careful, you can’t ask the government to cut corners and respond to pressures,” he said. He noted that while it would be right and just to some to “cut corners” in some matters, there would be objections if such is done in other matters.

On Tuesday Misir said that the investigation is at the investigative committee stage and he stressed that the committee does not determine whether the person loses his job or not, as the investigation has to go through some other stages. He explained that the UG statutes make provision for an investigation of complaints that might be made by students or anyone against a faculty member and that once the complaint is assessed and determined to have some degree of substance it would be investigated. He said in this case an investigative committee did do its work and “looked at all the pieces… and it came up with a report. But what has happened is that some people have seen the report on this guy… it is not the end it is the beginning of the whole due process… as I said we are very concerned about fairness here, regardless of who it is and I am not using this briefing to focus on the particular gentleman in question. I think my main concern here is to educate you on the due process at work,” he said.

In letters to UG Registrar Vincent Alexander, students alleged that Persaud victimized and intimidated them, particularly students sponsored by a mining company. One student related that on the first day in class, Persaud told them, “Leave y’all God at the [expletive] door,” saying that he was god in the classroom. Further, the student charged too that most of the time spent in class was “sex talking time” and as such he was given the name “Sex Man” by students. The student also reported that a 2008 examination supervised by Persaud was held at a city hotel and students who opposed this were victimized.

The student said too that after a decision was made by UG for Persaud’s examinations to be invigilated, he told students that he would give them information about the examination. He said too that Persaud spoke openly about using his political links to victimize the sponsored students. Two other students claimed that they were prevented from writing an examination on the claim that they had not passed their course work. They maintained that they had submitted their work to Persaud but never got anything back. They said he had done the same in two previous courses he taught.

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