The rule of law must be upheld
Stabroek News
February 4, 2004

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Dear Editor,

It really does not make any sense. Why would Mr Gajraj move away from the "Rule of Law" and illegally sanction a vigilante "phantom force" to deal with a crime situation? As Minister of Home Affairs he had¬ the authority¬ to deal with it legally. He¬ had the power¬ to put together a Special Task Force with special pay, technology and equipment who would have used the same paid informants to get at the criminals.

It is true that following the "Jailbreak 5"¬ criminals seemed to have¬ taken over and the public perception was that the police force was ineffective, the judicial system¬ corrupt and the Government unable to provide basic safety to life and property. It is understandable that ordinary citizens were driven to take the law into their own hands¬ to kill these criminals themselves.¬ It is also understandable¬ for¬ people¬ to¬ shout "good riddance... we have done a good deed.. we have saved tax-payers money .. crime has been reduced." Perhaps at the time it may seem that they are right. But the thing with this vigilante justice is that it always gets out of hand and the mob takes over. Pretty soon there is a complete breakdown of law and order¬ that threatens the life and property of every citizen. It is not the way for our people to go.

The Rule Of Law is that which defines us as a¬ civilized people. It is¬ the foundation of our democracy. This Government has spared no effort to boast of restoring this democracy to the people. Now they must¬ demonstrate their commitment to the principles of that democracy.

The allegations of George Bacchus are frightening. If the Home Affairs Minister did sanction operation "Phantom Force" then it¬ raises the possibility¬ that the PPP and the Government had knowledge of it.

So yes, we¬ must have an independent inquiry. Yes, Mr Gajraj must¬ remove¬ himself and be far away from the investigation. But no, he should not be¬ lynched by a¬ bunch of signatures without due process. The principles of the Rule of Law must be upheld by this Government and anyone seeking to be such.

Yours faithfully,

Shawn Mangru