Henry Jeffrey

Henry Jeffrey

Reasons and sincere reasons

‘The lawfulness of state actors’ decisions frequently depends on the reasons they give to justify their conduct, and a wide range of statutory and constitutional law renders otherwise lawful actions unlawful if they are not justified by reasons or are justified by the wrong reasons’(Mathilde Cohen.

Repositioning a not so `noble idea’

Around midnight on Saturday the 5th of August Varnika Kundu, a 29-year-old female Indian DJ based in Chandigarh alleged that she was involved in a motor car chase with the son of a politician and his friend who tried to abduct her.

Lessons from the Kenyan elections

The decision by the Kenyan Supreme Court to annul the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta brought back memories of the October 1998 decision by the British House of Lords that stripped the late Chilean President August Pinochet of his immunities and allowed for his arrest to answer for the over 3,000 tortures and deaths that his regime allegedly orchestrated during the 17 years of his dictatorial rule.

‘The pitfalls of ‘changed circumstances’’

On reading the Stabroek News article ‘Democracy is Bureaucracy’ (SN: 18/08/2017), I was again reminded of the need for conceptual clarity as we seek to broaden the scope of political participation for being imprecise could lead to deliberate avoidance or our missing important aspects of the discourse.

An unnecessary media quarrel

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C’s pontifications about the need for a free and open media must have elicited if not the vast hilarity coming from his detractors at the very least a timid smile from even his ardent supporters. 

New old stories

This has been an unusually good week for finding issues to comment upon, but apart from joining those celebrating the success of the 2017 STEM Guyana team, I want to focus on two matters.

Class, ethnicity and jail

Last year, when considering the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into the March 2016 prison disturbances in which 17 inmates lost their lives, I made two recommendations having to do with imprisonment and sentencing, which I am following up on here, because I believe they are still important to how our criminal justice system develops and is responded to by those in jail.

Freedom

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s ‘Das Capital’, and I was invited by the Guyana Peace Council, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union and the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre to make a presentation, “How to translate Capital into meaning for one’s life” at a seminar held last Saturday at National Library in Georgetown.

Lincoln Lewis: reasoning away structures

In 1817, the social theorist, activist and ‘father’ of ‘cooperation’, Robert Owen, was told at the Congress of Sovereigns at Aix-La-Chappelle that the enduring structural contradiction between capital and labour would make it impossible for his idea of cooperativising the world to gain traction.

Jagdeo negotiating under duress

Long conceptual and practical experience has taught me that the vicissitudes of the negotiation process are such that what at first may appear simple can become very complex, requiring an inordinate amount of thought and preparation.

The Elections Commission: Race has no premium

On Sunday 11th June 2017, I read an article in Stabroek News (‘Process to appoint substantive Chancellor, CJ should not be rushed – lawyer’), which convinced me that a substantial number of us suffer from a form of ‘cognitive delusion’: a preoccupation with beliefs about our political system despite the logical absurdity of some of these beliefs and a lack of supporting evidence (Encyclopædia Britannica).

Donald’s truth

In ‘Under the PPP/C Guyana had the fastest growing economy in the region’ (SN: 22/05/2017), former president Donald Ramotar presented some isolated truths, but the story he wove around them was essentially false.

Planning for the elderly again

Recently, the Government of Guyana, i.e. the Ministry of Public Health, announced that in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) it was in the process of devising a strategic plan to deal with the condition of the elderly.

Act now on African land issues

No sooner had President David Granger, in his address to the Fourth Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum at the Critchlow Labour College in August 2016, declared that his government intended to ‘establish a Lands Commission in order to rectify the anomalies and resolve the controversies which, up to now surround thousands of hectares of communal lands which were purchased in the post-Emancipation Village Movement,’ the Indian Action Committee (IAC) was on his case.

Coupling African and Amerindian land issues

Given its historical development and situational context, outside of pure formalism (an emphasis on form rather than content), to which this regime appears particularly prone, there are no good logical, historical, political, economic, social or other reasons why it should have decided to couple the generally settled Amerindian land issue to the yet to be consensually formulated African demand for ancestral land.

The spectre of secularism

‘Reasonable comprehensive doctrines, religious or non-religious, may be introduced in public political discussion at any time … provided that in due course proper political reasons – and not reasons given solely by comprehensive doctrines – are presented that are sufficient to support whatever the comprehensive doctrines are said to support’ (John Rawls.