Still no word on status of Rodney CoI report

With the extended December 15 deadline gone, there is no official word on the status of the final report for the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI).

To date the David Granger administration is still to definitively say whether the report was submitted and if not what is the new submission date along with the grounds.

Stabroek News again yesterday made efforts to reach the Secretary to the commission, Hugh Denbow for an update but was unsuccessful. Sources said that there is presently no support staff to the commission as they have all been paid their outstanding monies given that there wasn’t really anything much for them to do. Contacted yesterday Christopher Ram, the attorney for the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) of which Dr. Walter Rodney was leader said that he had been told nothing officially about the status of the report. He said that apart from what he is seeing reported in the press, he knows nothing more.

“I am optimistic that it (the report) will be submitted and that it will get due consideration by the government”, he told Stabroek News.

Persons close to the commission indicated that one of the chairman’s reasons for the inability to complete the report before the deadline has to do with the unavailability of the office staff. However one source said that this ought not to influence the preparation of the report as the commissioners would have been making their own notes during the hearings and that transcripts were later emailed to them.

Stabroek News had sent email correspondence to the commissioners but to date there has been no response.

Attorney General Basil Williams had said that Chairman of the Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham sent in a written request to government asking that the final report be submitted in February 2016; citing low productivity during the Christmas season.

Williams told reporters during a press conference that Sir Richard made his request in writing to the president who later responded that the cabinet’s decision was that the request “could not be accommodated and that the Rodney CoI was given up to the 15th day of December, 2015 to render the report.”

According to Williams, “Mr Cheltenham said that he is requesting the adjournment because we are in the season when work is hardly done…and they would need more time because they can’t get people to work during this season and it is something he believes is common throughout Caricom.” It was based on this that he requested that the new submission date be February 29, 2016.

“The president in his response had indicated that we have an intense programme for 2016 which includes the local government elections which is in March and the 50th independence anniversary celebration which is really year-round, but it begins with Mashramani which is a major component of our celebrations,” he said.

The final hearing was held on July 28 and the three-member commission was given until November 30 to submit its report, findings and recommendations.

The CoI began in April 2014 and continued early this year. According to the Terms of Reference, the commissioners were to examine the facts and circumstances immediately prior, at the time of and subsequent to the death of Rodney in order to determine as far as possible who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in his death.

The commissioners were also to enquire into the cause of the explosion in which Rodney died, including whether it was an act of terrorism and if so who were the perpetrators. The then PNC government had been accused of engineering Rodney’s assassination on June 13, 1980.

A petition with 1,000 signatures was recently submitted to the government to lobby for an additional two weeks of public hearings. An earlier application made by the Justice for Walter Rodney Campaign was turned down.

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