Noting former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s recent invoking of presidential immunity, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on Friday reiterated its historical opposition to the inclusion of Presidential Immunity in the Constitution.
“We continue to oppose Presidential immunity as an unnecessary and outdated provision. It has no place in democratic societies. The commitment to the rule of law and good governance should always be sacrosanct. When this provision was included in the 1980 constitution WPA opposed it then and continues to do so today. It should be recalled that the 1980 Constitu-tion was devoid of popular support”, the WPA said.
Presidential immunity offers penitential and actual cover for rulers who participate in wrongdoing, the WPA argued.
“In this regard, we are concerned that former president, Bharrat Jagdeo has instantly invoked presidential immunity in the ongoing Pradoville 2 probe. Ironically, the late President (Forbes) Burnham, who is often berated by the PPP, never invoked Presidential Immunity”, Rodney House said.
The WPA, which is a member of A Partnership for National Unity, the key component of the governing coalition, said it resolutely holds the view that “unconditional presidential immunity is against the democratic spirit. Courts around the world, when called upon, have generally imposed limits on such immunity. The president is not a monarch of the pre-democratic times nor is he or she above the law. WPA firmly feels that the constitutionality of Presidential immunity should be tested in the courts of law”. It called for an immediate review of this “constitutional burden on the society”.
With reference to the case involving the Pradoville 2 housing scheme investigations, WPA says it supports the Special Organised Crime Unit’s action to uphold the power of the police to question anyone it has credible reasons to believe is linked with or benefits from criminal wrongdoing. The WPA said that it believes that the need to detain Jagdeo and other PPP leaders, albeit briefly, became necessary in the face of what it was a deliberate attempt by the PPP leadership to have its members defy a lawful request from the police as a form of political grandstanding.
“WPA is deeply concerned that former President Bharrat Jagdeo may feel emboldened that his claim of Presidential Immu-nity is supported by the most powerful politician in the land. This in our view would be a most unfortunate development”, the party said.