Final member of President Commission of Inquiry appointed
Kaieteur News
July 13, 2004

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The final member of the three-man Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations leveled against Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj was appointed yesterday, clearing the way for the Commissioners to begin work.

Former Chancellor, Chief Justice and Attorney General under the PNC regime Keith Messiah took the Oath of Office yesterday in the presence of President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Office of the President.

The Chairman of the Commission is Justice of Appeal Ian Chang, SC. The other member is former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Major General Norman McLean.

President Jagdeo conferred the Instruments of Commission on two of the three Commissioners on July 2. Senior Counsel Messiah replaces Retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Ivan Crandon, who is currently the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and was initially named as the third member of the Commission. He was substituted following concerns raised by sections of society.

Responding to the concerns of Amnesty International and the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) about whether or not Crandonís appointment is a conflict of interest since he already sits on a Constitutional Commission, the Police Service Commission, the President had indicated his willingness to make changes if that was so.

Legal advice was sought and it did not agree with the nomination.

However, in the interest of satisfying concerns, the President replaced Crandon.

On May 14, the Head of State announced the appointment of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry, in accordance with Chapter 19:03 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, which enables the President to appoint a Commission.

The appointment of the Commission followed Minister Gajrajís public announcement on May 7 that he had requested from President Jagdeo permission to proceed on leave to allow for an impartial investigation into an allegation of his knowledge of the operations of an alleged death squad.

Members of the Commission will soon meet to decide when it will begin work.

Yesterday, McLean said the Commission will definitely be meeting this week. However, he declined to comment further.

Minister Gajraj proceeded on leave on July 2, to allow for the investigation to be conducted. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Gail Teixeira will hold the post in the absence of Minister Gajraj.