The Guyana Trades Union Congress’ position on the Linden Commission of Inquiry

Submitted by Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary Guyana Trades Union Congress

Submitted by Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary Guyana Trades Union Congress

Consistent with the Terms of Reference the Report by the Linden Commission of Inquiry is an achievement for all Guyana – see Linden Commission of Inquiry Report. This report exposes the underbelly of the beast seeking to consume law and order in the society and rob the people of the needed security and protection to peacefully co-exist and go about their daily business. A report that says: 1) “the police were responsible for the shooting to death of the three persons as well as the injuries caused to several other persons at Linden on July 18, 2012;” 2) “an examination of the relevant evidence reveals that ASP Todd and Constable Rodney were the only police ranks who discharged shots from shotguns;” 3) ‘00’ buckshot cartridges were used on the unarmed demonstrators and the “use of the ‘00’ in the circumstances would not have been reasonable but would constitute excessive force;” 4) “The use of such lethal force was not justified in the circumstances.” 5) “Even though Mr. Todd using the ‘shotgun…discharged a round into the ground to take off the velocity, to scare and chase the protesters who were gathered’ this was fraught with danger. Discharging a shotgun is hardly the way to ‘scare’ persons and ought never to have been used in the circumstances;”

6) “the policy on the use of force should be reviewed and done urgently.[…] in order to adopt international best practices;” 7) “entries in the [Arms Book] cannot be relied on as there were numerous irregularities evident therein;” 8) “it must be noted that the Chairman of the Complaints Authority has made several requests for independent investigators to be made available  to that body but to no avail;  9) “Some of the procedures for engagement of the police before carrying out operations appear to be very militaristic and aspects of their standard operational procedures support that position;” and 10) “recommend the government  urgently implements the ‘Human Rights Standards and Practice for the Police’ as developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” is not a report to be treated with disdain or disregard.

A holistic and dispassionate examination of this report will find areas of concerns and disappointments and where such are evident they should be noted in efforts to ensure this society adheres to Rights and the Rule of Law and hold accountable those placed in positions to execute and safeguard these tenets. Also, where there is misapplication of the Report it must be corrected. There is a mixed up in understanding of the Commission of Inquiry take on the use of ammunition. Persons question if the commissioners concluded that “ASP Todd was somewhat reckless when he discharged four rounds of ammunition….” can it similarly be said that “nonetheless the discharge of ammunition itself by the police in the circumstances described by ASP Todd was justified…” This has created fodder, knowingly or unknowingly, and leads to projecting  an impression that the police’s actions were justified. A look into the report confirms the commissioners were looking at ammunition holistically- lethal and non lethal weapons- both of which were employed on July 18, and the use of the former (lethal) condemned.

Further, no where in the Report is it stated the Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee is “exonerated.” The report said, “There was no evidence given at the hearings before the Commission to support the assertion that the Minister gave instructions to the GPF in relation to the incident in Linden” and “All that the Minister and the parties who testified on interaction with the Minister admitted was that the Minister was trying to obtain information as to what was happening in Linden on July 18th in his telephone conversations with the police during that day.”  The absence and the duplicity of evidence by the police, along with the acting Commissioner of Police’s November 2012 statement to “support the boss” open discussions regarding the believability of the statements made by the police and minister. But an absence of evidence does not constitute a pronouncement of “exoneration,” the latter of which the report never stated.

The report in addressing Human Rights said “The Lindeners had complained bitterly and with justification….” about police abuse. It is against this backdrop all arms of government must seek to treat expeditiously all concerns of the citizens because this is one of the primary functions of government –the citizen’s rights. And while the people of Linden, by their resoluteness, paved the way for this report, it opens the doors for everyone and every institution to be held accountable and provide the needed impetus for attracting and retaining honourable officers. Lusignan, Bartica, Agricola, Lindo Creek and every area or individual seeking answers to unsolved deaths or injuries this report serves as a catalyst for pursuing justice and closure brought for loved ones. The Report is the property of the people and its fruition requires individuals and civil society holding those in government, both executive and opposition, accountable in making sure they work in implementing the recommendations.

The performance of the Force has been put under the laser beam and coupled with the findings that the Police Complaint Authority (PCA) has been denied the requisite resources to carry out its task indicate that there is an orchestrated policy to allow the police to transgress people’s rights, violate laws, and immobilise an institution that would cause them to account. This must be fixed and civil society along with the politicians must add their muscles to strengthen and depoliticise the PCA. Administratively the acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) can began the process of police reform as noted in the chaos and lawlessness record keeping, ammunition audit, tracking, deployment and destruction, among other inefficiencies. The CoP needs no ministerial direction (policy) to act and his failure to put systems in place to correct the shortcomings will communicate to society that there are other motives for allowing the situation to continue. The sum total of this report presents a damning outlook of the Police Force, whose policies are developed by the subject minister and by extension he shoulders the responsibility for the state of affairs.

The examination of compensation for the deceased families are recommendations and any caring government will take on board the responsibility to negotiate with the respective attorney packages that are appropriate for injuries and loss of lives. The failure of the government to take on board appropriate consideration can see this said report being used in the Court to justify claims by affected persons and their loved ones. And let it be clearly known, this report holds the police responsible for the killings and injuries. It is now the responsibility of the Force to offer favourable compensation, failing which civil action can be taken in the Court of the land.

0 thoughts on “The Guyana Trades Union Congress’ position on the Linden Commission of Inquiry

  1. Caswell franklyn ,now that the NUPW elections are in the air will you please look at the rules and tell us who are responsible for the management of that organisation on a daily basis ,and also if the general secretary has the authoity to manage that fianances of that organisation —and can the council discipline any EXECUTIVE OFFICER .

  2. The General Secretary is responsible for the day to day management of the NUPW. The Treasurer is responsible for the finances but he must obey the instructions of the National Council. However, the Treasurer can refuse if he is asked to do something that is contrary to the rules or is otherwise illegal. Case in point, the former Treasurer Ken Dash refused to sign cheques even though he was so instructed by the National Council. He refused because the union was attempting to utilise funds that were part of the Government’s subvention for training, which could only have been used for that purpose. Dash quite rightly refused because the expenditure had nothing to do with training. Mind you, the Auditor General can cause those funds to be audited and Dash wanted no part in misappropriating the subvention. An illegal resolution was passed to suspend Dash and the Deputy Treasurer then signed the cheques as acting Treasurer.

    To answer your question about discipline of an executive officer, the rules are absolutely clear. Only a general meeting of members can discipline executive officers. To be clear, there is a general rule about the National Council disciplining officers, but there is a specific rule that deals with executive officers only which require a meeting of members.

    Even though you did not ask, what is Dennis Clarke still doing at NUPW after he has passed retirement age? He should have retired at the end of October last year. He well knows the retirement age since he made sure that the Watchman, Jordan, was force into retirement when he reached 65. Jordan like Clarke did not want to go into retirement but he had no choice. Why is Clarke given a choice?

  3. @Caswell

    Two issues are of concern to those looking on.

    Who are the alternatives to the present leadership? Are they credible?

    What about the membership that they are not able to discern the issues which have been articulated on BU and elsewhere?

    • David

      Anything is better than what currently exists at NUPW. Over the last few years more than enough evidence of corruption in the affairs of the union has emerged. In addition to that the President appears to be a spokesman for the DLP. The interest of the workers has taken over the back burners of the NUPW in preference to party politics. We even had an instance where the President appeared to be attacking Dale Marshal. Not even the Combermere tie prevailed when he is seeking to defend his party.

      I understand that it is a two way race for the presidency: Danny Gill and Walter Maloney, aka Mamoney. Mamoney is still tarnished by the scandals involving money for obtaining benefits from the union that he was not entitled to receive. No one should forget that they illegally suspended the Treasurer and then signed a number of cheques that he had objected to signing. I will say no more as that matter is now before the Courts.

      On the other hand, Danny Gill comes without any corruption baggage. He is feared by both political parties. At one stage, he even ran against Billie Miller and he really put some telling blows in the BLP for which he has not yet been forgiven. But we will wait and see if the DLP wins this election or for once an independent is victorious at the polls.

  4. CASWELL –you spoke of a subvention from Government ,but do you know that the same thing you wrote about that is the using of the subvention for other purposes is being done by CTUSAB, and who is the PRESIDENT –CEDRIC MURRELL and who is the TREASURER—ANNE MARIE BURKE (yes the same ANNEMARIE who went behind the former treasurer ken,and signed the cheques for walter ,denis and denis son )

  5. CASWELL do you know that Walter ,CEDRIC and DENIS CLARKE and company has form a company to run the medicare with out permission from the general membership –and that the side kick GRACE before meals is supposed to have a major job in it and also that the side kick LOWE from St.Andrew is suppose to have a major job in it also —
    FRANKLYN CAN YOU TELL US HOW MANY CASES has been filed against

    • I am aware that the level of corruption at NUPW has not diminish: it has only taken another form. I heard about the company that was set up to handle the Medicare scheme. Again, it was done with stealth. Whoever formed the company did not get permission from any of the duly constituted decision making bodies in the union. The National Council was presented with an au fait accompli. My understanding is that Cedric Murrell is the Chairman. I don’t seem to get it, why is Cedric featuring in these questionable actions? He became president of CTUSAB when he was not even a delegate to that body. But no one questioned it, just like the docile council has taken no action against the perpetrators of these breaches.

      They will fight hard to retain control of the union after the elections because they have to be there to continue to cover up the wrong doing that is now endemic. Nothing but a clean sweep will suffice. By the way, Erice, it seems that you are close to the union so could you tell me who got all the Arawak cement free when building their bungalow.

  6. CAS–can you tell us how many cases has been filed against NUPW and its president –can you tell us if the NUPW is still paying for a building in NEWTON that has not been occupied and can you tell us if the medical hospital that DENIS ,WALTER,and CEDRIC has spent so much money trying to get millions of dollars to set up has started and who is expecting to get a ten percentage of any funds as a finders fee

  7. CASWELL–I AM A RETIRED civil servant and must go there to pay my dues –you need to ask DENIS CLARKE that question ,may be the HALL OF GRACE which can be found in and at kendal St.John about that cement also ask him who finance the wife trip to CPSA years ago by the way the other occupany of his home is employed at the ARAWAK CEMENT PLANT —and yes the staff at NUPW has been talking freely about the corruption that has been taking place there

  8. I was reading with some interest the exchange between Rice and Caswell about the NUPW. To my surprise I opened the daily Nation only to see at page 3 the strategy by the Nation Newspaper, Cawmere and the DLP to attempt to keep Walter Maloney as President of the NUPW. Now Rev. Murrell qite knows that the “buying votes theme” is a red herring for BOTH sides BLP and DLP bought votes on February 21, 2013.

    What then is the purpose of this entanglement if not an attempt by Rev. Murrell to use his good office to influence the outcome of the NUPW April 3, 2013 poll. Now Maloney has an opponent by the name of Danny Gill, as indicated by Caswell, but where is the opportunity for Mr. Gill to get some media time also. And this is not strange for last election Ma Money was given all the media coverage he wanted. But at no time did the media or Rev. Murrell inquired into Ma Money infelicities at the NUPW. If Mike King is a past Cawmere man he should hold his head in shame.

    This why the chair of the electoral commission does not understand why we need the Barbados Underground. For where else can I go to express my opinion on such matters as these.

  9. Lemeul—now you understand maloney will sing for his supper -he has no shame , REV . MURRELL has been encouraging him in his nastyness from last elections . the NUPW under MALONEY ,MURRELL and CLARKE become a devision or Branch of the DLP. check and see that all of them represent the DLP on various Boeads

  10. Lemuel its should be various BOARDS.
    Caswell and Lemuel –if you can a copy of the minutes of january 31st 2013 of the NationL Council,on page 11to 14 you will see as from April 1st 2013,that the NUPW will become an AGENT of ICBL–ITis noted that all this was done behind SAGICOR back -with CEDRIC MURRELL stating that ”that the matter should not be placed in the open

  11. ÍT will be interesting to see the Certificate of incorporation to see the Directors and menbers of the BOARD. word reaching me is that there is a conflict of interest on the part of the Directors —–more corruption will the legal person and the former women in Developement person resign (she was recently honoured)—Corruption at its hight –these are the same persons who cut up the UNION propety with out Council or General membership permission ,th

  12. These are the same people who signed the lease agreement with BIDC for the Newton building which cannot be used yet NUPW pays monthly

  13. CASWELL can you get a copy ofthe certificate of INCORPORATION
    by the way my good friend GRACE not saying much to me ,she has suspected that i do the blogging ,so she has limit the information to me .
    but check and see the corruption that going on at the NUPW and CTUSAB where the of the Subvention is being use for the payment of wages,salaries,travel,entertainment and the rental of premises and not the training of members

Leave a comment, join the discussion.