Don't prejudge work, integrity of commission
May 18, 2004
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon says the Commission of Inquiry is the best format to bring closure to the death squad issue.
And he hopes the sceptics would come to recognise the value of a time-bound and rules-based approach.
On Friday, President Bharrat Jagdeo set up the commission of inquiry which is to be headed by Justice of Appeal, Ian Chang and include, Former GDF Chief of Staff Norman McLean and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ivan Crandon.
The commission is to investigate to what extent there is evidence of a credible nature to support the allegations that Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj has been involved in a death squad. Gajraj is to step aside to allow for an impartial inquiry.
According to a release from Government Information Agency (GINA) Luncheon's remarks came after the opposition parties had rejected the commission given they were not consulted and that the terms of reference are restrictive.
On the last point, Luncheon said the administration has recognised that there had to be some kind of judgement. He said the terms had to be specific as it relates to the minister and had to be concentrated on the issue that the opposition itself had been focusing on, including protesting in front of Garjaj's home.
He argued that careful examination of the rules of engagement of the commission should have been considered before condemning it outright. He noted that currently there is a vacuum since there is no information on how they will operate. He added that there is much malicious speculation by many, including newspapers and elements of the international community, which have already imputed designs of the administration into an activity that is yet to be defined. He urged all those who claim to have evidence relevant to the terms of the commission to come forward.
According to Luncheon, the expectation of the government is that the announcement of the inquiry would have been seen for what it is worth, rather than a retreat of a previous position that an investigation by the police was mandatory. He said the PNCR sticking dogmatically to its entrenched position was not surprising and that they would only be satisfied with having Gajraj's head delivered on a platter. He added that the politicisation of the issue had contributed to the impasse and that the government's move to a commission is a position to which the party has no response.
On the issue of the integrity of the commissioners, Luncheon said it is most unfortunate that the PNCR has allowed for what he perceives to be the indignities meted out to the panel members. Noting that there is a false perception that the administration is moving only as a result of external pressures, Luncheon said the government had held fast to the position that an inquiry should be conducted by the police, but the need for a judgement call has resulted in the government's position of flexibility.