Johnson has denied Coen Jackson due process

Dear Editor,

My client, Mr Coen Jackson, who is currently on Ministry of Education sanctioned  administrative leave, welcomes the referral of the allegation to the Guyana Police Force levelled against him, by Mr Ruel Johnson, Cultural Advisor to the Ministry of Social Cohesion.

It is unfortunate that since this decision was made, and the matter is now subject to investigation, Mr Ruel Johnson continues to use social media and the mainstream media to peddle, poison, distort, accuse, try, convict, sentence, and condemn Mr Jackson, who is very much circumscribed by what he can say.

In a letter to Stabroek News published on November 25, 2017, under the imprimatur of Ruel Johnson (‘There has been an apparent absence of any clear process of dealing with the complaints of BHS students’) Mr Johnson repeats certain allegations against Mr Jackson which are now under police investigation.

It is clear that the intention of Mr Johnson is to further influence and sway the Guyana Police Force’s investigation in a certain direction, in which Mr Johnson has placed himself as the main actor/starboy, in a developing plot.

In this Stabroek News letter, Mr Johnson tries to defend himself against the accusation that he has used social media, his government employment, and his declared influence in the mainstream media to deny Mr Jackson due process. His response in Stabroek News does not detract from the fact that he never allowed the Chief Education Officer, Mr Marcel Hutson, to launch a proper investigation into the complaint that he made against Mr Jackson.

It is noteworthy that the letter that he authored dated November 20, 2017, which he carbon copied to Ms Nicolette Henry, Minister of Educa-tion, was also copied to Ministers Ramjattan, Ally, Lawrence, Williams, and Norton.

It is clear by this action that Mr Johnson was not moved by a mere complaint of perceived wrongdoing by Mr Coen Jackson, but was a direct attack on the Chief Education Officer, Mr Marcel Hutson, and his boss, Ms Nicolette Henry, for reasons best known to him. For there can be no sane or justifiable reason why five other members of cabinet would be sent copies of the letter, unless Mr Johnson has no respect for the authority, ability, performance, and competence of Minister Nicolette Henry and her able CEO, Mr Marcel Hutson.

This is a clear illustration of Mr Ruel Johnson’s disregard for due process, as he did not allow Minister Henry, and her CEO Hutson, to institute an administrative review of the complaint and to submit a report from which other actions could flow. This has since been done.

Mr Johnson’s behaviour was well-calculated, organized, engineered, and promoted in social media to create a certain caricature of Mr Coen Jackson, without any investigation. Again, this was a denial of due process, and a poisoning of the environment in which the police now have to investigate.

He has stated in his letter that he believed Mr Jackson had committed several offences under the Sexual Offences Act, again this without any investigation being started or completed. Clearly, another example of Mr Johnson’s disregard and disrespect for natural justice, due process, and the rule of law.

Mr Johnson’s letter of November 20, 2017, when analyzed, was not a mere complaint against Mr Jackson, but as has been pointed out by a number of individuals it is really a resumé of Mr Johnson himself.

He includes almost seven-plus paragraphs speaking about himself, in which he elaborates that he was instrumental in crafting the terms of reference (TOR) of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the state of the education system in Guyana and has reviewed the preliminary report coming out of the CoI, and based on such high achievements he was in a position to recommend various things, including what ought to be done by the Chief Education Office and the Ministry of Education, the Guyana Police Force, and for the creation of a special committee to investigate this matter, including naming persons to be appointed.

Clearly, the intention of Mr Johnson is not merely to file a complaint but it could be interpreted as an attempt to embarrass the current government.

If Mr Johnson simply meant to launch a complaint, he could have done so in two or three paragraphs, but by inserting recommendations on how an investigation should be handled, has tainted the process, denied Mr Coen Jackson due process, his natural justice rights and has made a conclusion about the outcome.

We welcome the statement of the GTU General Secretary, Ms Coretta McDonald, who said that it is too early to pronounce on the allegations made against Mr Coen Jackson and she has criticized the very public manner in the reporting of the claim. We endorse as well Ms McDonald’s opinion that the right approach had not been taken in addressing the allegation. Despite Ms McDonald’s public statement, Mr Johnson continues to show absolutely no respect or regard for due process and the rule of law.

We also wish to highlight the comments made by Mr Mark Lyte of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, who stated that the GTU has never been tasked with defending Mr Coen Jackson on any report to them. It was pointed out at the press conference held by us, on November 21, 2017, that there has never been a report of misconduct of any nature across all the teaching institutions he has been associated with, nor has he been ever dismissed for wrongdoing, covering a 20-year period.

Mr Jackson remains ready to cooperate fully with the Guyana Police Force despite his grave concerns that the environment in which the police are now asked to operate has been poisoned and tainted by Mr Johnson’s continued campaign against him, for reasons which are very personal in nature.

Yours faithfully,
Jerome Khan

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