Administration remains committed to Presidential Commission
- Luncheon
Guyana Chronicle
May 20, 2004

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THE Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Bharrat Jagdeo to investigate allegations linking Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj to the operations of a so-called 'death squad' will begin its work shortly, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr Roger Luncheon said yesterday.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, he said the Administration remains committed to its course of action and the Commissioners are to be sworn soon.

He added that other steps to implement what was announced by the Head of State are ongoing.

The HPS said Office of the President (OP) has noted the "wholly unacceptable resort of the People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) and their acolytes to allegations and attacks on the integrity of the appointed Commissioners and the "ludicrous proposals for the exclusion of categories of persons from being Commissioners."

OP is emphasising that the President's appointment of the Commission is in accordance with the Laws of Guyana and provides for a timely resolution of the main allegation of ministerial criminal misconduct and, as such, the terms of reference (TOR) were framed to facilitate this, Luncheon said.

He said, in due course, the Administration would address, in greater detail, the full extent of the PNC/R's campaign of "fulminations against the three Commissioners" and expose the "utter and obvious hopelessness of their proposed alternatives and, thus, the real motives for their immediate rejection of the Commissioners and the Commission of Inquiry."

Asked about the Government's response to claims by the political opposition of lack of consultation on the establishment of the Commission, Luncheon replied that had the reaction of the PNC/R been merely to highlight that he would have acknowledged it is so.

However, he contended that, in reality, the PNC/R's reaction was considerably more than a call for consultation, because it was followed by "an outburst, rejection, refusal to participate in the work of the Commission and accept the results of its findings."

Luncheon recalled that the PNC/R expressed unwillingness to provide the Police with information it claimed to have in relation to the death squad allegations when the Government was insisting on having that law enforcement institution investigate them.

He also pointed out that the PNC/R wrote the United Nations Secretary General requesting that the world body or another international agency mount an inquiry into the controversial issue.

As regards the Commission being limited to investigating Minister Gajraj, Luncheon said that is the major accusation and, subsequently, there will be investigations into the entire matter of alleged death squads.

Alluding to the contention by the Leader of the Opposition and PNC/R, Mr Robert Corbin, that the amended Constitution provides for consultation on such matters, the HPS said the latter would need to come with more "substance."

Touching on the apparent reluctance of Chairman of the Commission, Justice of Appeal Ian Chang, to take up the appointment, Luncheon referred to what he called "the overlapping work" done by the judge, with regard to extra-judicial killings, when he chaired the Disciplined Services Commission (DSC) but said the "real reasons" for the statements by Mr Chang will eventually surface.

The other members named by President Jagdeo to sit on the Commission are Major General (retired) Norman Mc Clean and Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr Ivan Crandon.