Parliament approves constitutional amendment for Police Force inquiry

Guyana Chronicle
May 17, 2003

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PARLIAMENT moved a step closer to establishing a commission of inquiry into the workings of the Guyana Police Force when the National Assembly unanimously approved the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2003 on Thursday.

That legislative measure paved the way for the National Assembly to debate the terms of reference (TOR) for the Disciplined Forces Commission yesterday.

Speaker of the House, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran observed that, although all the Opposition parties lent full support, the legislation was passed with barely a two-thirds majority, after Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud called for a division.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Doodnauth Singh, who piloted the Bill through its second and third readings, successfully proposed some amendments reached by consensual agreement.

Earlier, during the debate when he supported the Bill on behalf of his party, People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Winston Murray recalled that, last May 6, President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin signed the joint communique in which they agreed to establish the Commission by amending Article 197 (A) of the Constitution.

Frontbencher Murray said he was pleased to speak supportively on the Bill to give effect to the pact inked by the two leaders.

He said it is a known fact that the PNCR has, for sometime now, been seeking to have the operations of the Police Force probed and he noted that the ethnic composition of the Disciplined Services will be taken into account.

Guyana Action Party/Working People's Alliance (GAP/WPA) MP, Ms. Sheila Holder also supported the Bill, saying it would allow for "some level of good order to return to the country."

She is, however, of the view that such a commission could have been in place already, had President Jagdeo previously invoked his powers.

Rise, Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) Leader, Mr. Ravi Dev endorsed the move, too.

Meanwhile, consideration of the Kidnapping Bill 2002 was deferred, again, until Monday.

It seeks to legislate punishment for abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement for ransom and other related offences.

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