Commission of Inquiry: Chang wavers
Stabroek News
May 19, 2004

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Justice of Appeal Ian Chang is reconsidering his decision to serve on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj's alleged involvement in unlawful killings.

"What purpose will it serve if it doesn't address the concerns by the opposition?" Chang asked rhetorically, while speaking with Stabroek News yesterday evening.

"If they have expressed concern, what is the sense? I must question whether it is an exercise of futility..." Chang added.

Chang was selected by President Bharrat Jagdeo to serve as Chairman of the commission, which is to also include retired Major General Norman McLean and Chairman of the Police Service Commission Ivan Crandon.

The commission is to investigate to what extent there is evidence of a credible nature to support the allegations that the Home Affairs minister was involved in unlawful executions, according to its Terms of Reference.

But parliamentary opposition parties have rejected the commission, saying it does not meet their minimum standards, while citing the unilateral decision for its creation, its composition and its limited Terms of Reference.

In a statement one day after the President announced his decision, the PNCR, WPA and the ROAR Guyana Movement asked the President to reconsider his decision, and also asked that the three commissioners recuse themselves from serving on the commission, in the face of the concerns.

President Jagdeo had made a point of noting that Justice Chang had agreed to serve on the commission with some reluctance.

Chang has recently completed work on the reform of the disciplined forces as part of the Disciplined Forces Commission, which he chaired during its ten-month review.

He told Stabroek News that he was yet to receive instruments for appointment on the Gajraj probe commission from the President and he was unaware if the orders for the appointment of the commissioners have been signed by the head-of-state.

The government, after four months of unrelenting support for a police investigation, agreed to put the mechanisms in place for the inquiry, after a request by the embattled minister himself.