Dear Editor,The WPA OA salutes the stand taken by four board members of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) — Bert Wilkinson, Tabitha Sarabo-Haley, Karen Davis and Ruel Johnson — in resigning in protest against the firing of the two columnists, Lincoln Lewis and Dr. David Hinds.We cannot underestimate the importance of this principled stand by these board members, one of the more remarkable and important acts of principle over party affiliation, and support for a democratic press taken in recent years. This act of courage by these Board members may be a sign of the emergence of a maturing Guyanese consciousness that party politics must not subvert the wheels of democracy. The WPA OA stands in support of all Guyanese patriots who resist the temptation of narrow party politics at the expense of the nation. We feel this is what this nation cries out for as it struggles with our historical legacy of divide and rule. The Guyana Chronicle and the company which runs the paper, the GNNL, have been subject to the whims of the specific party in power for far too long. Both the PNC and PPP/C have been blatant in rendering the Guyana Chronicle a mouthpiece of the state. We felt a turn had been achieved with the accession of the APNU+AFC administration to power, but in the recent actions of the Guyana Chronicle and its editor, the clear hand of manipulation and diktat of the state at the highest level was visible.While an argument can be made for members to have remained on the Board as a means of struggling against a total takeover of the Board, thereby giving the dictatorial policymakers free reign or rein in reducing the newspaper to a mouthpiece of the Government, we commend their stand on this assault on the right of a free press.Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, under whose portfolio the Chronicle falls, and by extension the principles of press freedom, owes the general public an explanation for this dire and dark decision that stabs press freedom in the back.Respectfully,Keith BranchPress Secretary,WPAOA
Dear Editor,One of the main characteristics of a democratic society is the separation of powers. The three pillars on which it stands are the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. In democratic societies, there are variations on how society is managed, but all free and democratic states are based on those separation.The Judiciary has particular importance, since it should be independent and interpret the law impartially and fairly. Thus the saying ‘Justice is blind’.When this begins to fail, people tend to lose hope and confidence in the ability of the State to protect their interests.Aspiring dictators tend to move to undermine the Judiciary in the process of establishing an undemocratic system.In Guyana, we saw this process first beginning slowing then picking up speed during the 1964 to 1992 period.First was the appointment of politically biased Judges who were willing to carry out the wishes of the Executive and to try to justify that in law.The other side of that coin was the removal of Judges who demonstrated integrity and independence and who fearlessly discharged their duty of upholding the law and Constitution.Some of those who immediately come to mind are Guya Persaud, Sir Joseph Luckhoo and Justice Vieira.After removing the ‘undesirable’ Judges, the People’s National Congress (PNC) regime then removed accountability by withdrawing from the Privy Council without leaving anything to put in its place.When that process was completed, the dictator did not even have to instruct the Judges which way to rule. Ashton Chase once wrote that the Judges began to anticipate what the dictator wanted and dutifully ruled in that way.Under such a system, it was only a small step to put the party symbol on the courts. The PNC’s flag was hoisted on a taller fly pole than the nation’s flag in the Guyana Court of Appeal compound. The Chancellors appointed by the PNC did nothing about that.We have come a far way since those days. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic restored the separation of powers. Moreover, it was Cheddi Jagan who insisted that the Caribbean Court of Appeal be established. He even threatened to return to the Privy Council if the Caribbean Court of Appeal was not established.Guyana was among the first countries to sign to make the Caribbean Court of Appeal operational. Now we are once again seeing troubling signs of a reversal or some setbacks in this regard.We find many important constitutional cases not being heard by the Judiciary. The first and most notable is the Elections Petition case of 2015. Three years have already elapsed and it is not being called up. Not even started. This seems to be deliberate. It appears that the Judiciary does not want to displease the Executive that is most likely in power due to fraud.A second case in point is the case as regards the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Many learned persons in the law are of the view that the present person in that post is there illegally and unconstitutionally.A case was brought to the courts to decide this. However, it seems to have been lost in the bureaucracy. This is another method of frustrating the majority of people in this country. But this is not all.On more than one occasion, the Communities Minister has been violating the Constitution in his appointment of some Mayors, and Chairpersons at the Local Government level. Court cases have been filed but that seem to be where the matters end. No dates have been fixed for the hearing.There are other constitutional cases that were heard. The matters completed in the court but no ruling has been made. These things are tied up in the court for years.In light of the above, one wonders if the Judiciary is taking orders or they are anticipating what the rulers want and are using their positions to deliver.I am appalled that the legal fraternity is so tight-lipped about these dangerous and ominous signs.If we contrast our situation here with Trinidad and Kenya where challenges to the elections were made, we see how expeditiously the courts heard the cases and ruled on them. In the case of Kenya, elections had to be redone.I wish to warn that there are consequences for every simple person in our country when these violations are allowed to happen.The experience all over the world has shown that when the Judiciary does not perform its functions, it leads to dictatorship in our political life.In economic life it leads to decline and even collapse. Things become bad and lines are formed for essential items like salt and toilet paper.Sincerely,Donald RamotarFormer President
Dear Editor,There are so many instances of incompetence and outright corruption in this PNC-led Coalition that I do not know where to start. They are in such an advanced and entrenched form of being corrupt that corruption has enveloped their souls, and in that lost state, they are now bringing down the entire nation with them. To this end, they have become so appallingly brazen with that message exported in a hidden series of promises.We are in the season of promises, promises galore; so here we go. Again, I do not know where to start, but let me be fair and cast lots, and the lot automatically falls on the Prime Minister, so I shall begin at Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.Now, the Prime Minister is on the campaign trail to regain his position, and to do this, he is going about it in a roundabout manner, playing the “good guy, charismatic figure role.” He is targeting the youths in our midst, one of the groups he thinks he can exploit with his subtleties.He speaks of free education at our university for our youths, and of all sorts of niceties. At face value, these promises seem well meaning and good for the youths, who, according to the President, are the future of our nation. Nice and fitting words for a campaigner, sweet and darling ideas.But wait, Mr Prime Minister; let us pause a moment. These are not new and exciting promises; these are old, worn-out phrases used four years ago in the last election. The only addition is the free education clause; free education is just an addition to the youth phrase chant.Since the last election, when the youths were his target group, nothing has been done to help their cause, and the Government did come up wanting. Now that another election is looming, our youths have suddenly seen prominence in the eyes of this Government. After four long years, the youths are again being targeted to shore up Nagamootoo’s, as well as this Government’s, image.But I can tell them this: it is too little, too late; the youths are not fooled by your latest offer, they have seen your hypocrisy and double talk. They have seen you raise your salaries by 50 per cent, and having a good life while the jobs that were promised them became an elusive dream. These are struggling youths, some of whom have families to take care of and no jobs. This is the reality the youths face day after day.So, Mr Nagamootoo, please take your promises and put them where I cannot here express my profoundest thoughts; only to say hide them where…, you know where.Respectfully,Neil Adams
Over a dozen persons were injured on Tuesday morning after the driver of the Route 42 minibus in which they were travelling lost control, causing the vehicle to topple several times.Public spirited persons carrying one of the injured passengers while another sat on the ground, as persons gathered at the sceneThe accident occurred sometime around 09:30h on the Sarah Johanna Public Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD). According to reports reaching Guyana Times, the minibus was heading to Georgetown at a fast rate when it reportedly suffered a blowout.This caused the bus to topple several times before finally coming to a halt on the other side of the road. While there was no fatality, this newspaper was told that the accident caused most of the passengers to sustain bruises while three persons were seriously injured.The injured passengers were rushed to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, EBD. Several persons remained at the medical facility seeking medical attention while a few were transferred to Georgetown to be further treated.Guyana Times was told that among the passengers in the bus at the time of the accident were six students of Friendship Secondary School. A staff member from the school related that the students went to school after the incident; some limping and others in pain and informed the administration about the accident.“The Police then came to the school and advice us to bring the students here at Diamond to get checked out,” the official said.At the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, this publication spoke with a few of the students who were in the minibus at the time of the accident. One student, Jennifer Lilly, recounted that as the bus was proceeding in the northern direction along the East Bank Road, it began to pick up speed. She noted that upon reaching a turn in proximity to Sarah Johanna, the bus went over a “bump”.
In light of the consistent humanitarian exercises by D Division (West Bank Demerara-East Bank Essequibo) of the Guyana Police Force, Region’s Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) administration has vowed to reward the ranks by establishing for them, a special ground where their activities can be carried out in comfort.Region Three REO Dennis JaikaranThis was according to the region’s Regional Executive Officer (REO) Dennis Jaikaran, during his congratulatory speech to the Force on making a major contribution to the establishment of a library at the Parfait Harmonie Primary School.During the delivery of his speech, Jaikaran said the Force has been making a major impact in the lives of residents of the region and for this reason, they are eligible for a reward.Giving back to the community by way of aiding was just one of the initiatives of the Force, as over the years it has taken the affairs of the residents as its priority and worked tediously to address them.This is not only in the sense of offering security to the residents, but also in the form of charitable and self-building activities to achieve ultimate development.Jaikaran assured the Force that in the near future the administration will be paving the way for the provision of a new ground that will be built specifically for the ranks and for the hosting of activities of the Force.As the activities are many, he said that this indeed will be a beneficial move, not only for the Force, but also the region.He also said this would help to foster growth and expansion in the region even as the country aims to accomplish extensive development and improve the productivity level of its population.The REO added that the activities of the Force should be embodied by the rest of the region so that they also can make an impact on regional and national advancement.He encouraged the region to get on board and be active bodies for the purpose of building a land that would eventually be more sustainable, safe and productive for human living.Jaikaran therefore commended the ranks for having the interest of the country at heart and acting to ensure that the goals they want to see in the lives of Guyanese are achieved.He urged them to continue their work in serving Guyana and making every effort to move the country closer to its goal of extensive progression.Making his remarks on behalf of the D Division, Commander Stephen Mansell said that the Force will continue to do its part in fostering Guyana’s growth.He disclosed that the Guyana Police Force over the years has undertaken a number of activities that have been beneficial to the public and there are a wide range of others that it will be embarking on in the near future.Mansell cited that over the course of one of its most recent activity, the Force had been able to get more than 185 youths from the Region Three district off of the streets and living sustainable lives.Over the remainder of this year, the Police Force will be additionally offering two sets of programmes that target the region’s youths.The Commander said this includes the cookery programme that is currently running and will provide the foundation for youths who find an interest in food and nutrition. This programme will be running for six weeks.Additionally, in August, the Force will also be commencing its vocational training slated for one month and designed primarily for youths.Mansell urged the public to take advantage of these activities as they are intended to promote self building.
Deadly prison riotBy Shemuel FanfairDeputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels is of the view that the loss of resale value from seized contraband items from the Camp Street Prison is responsible for the disdain inmates harbour against him. These comments were made on the sidelines of the Commission of Inquiry into the March prison riots.When questioned by media operatives on Wednesday, Deputy Director Samuels, who has 15 years’ experience in the Prison Service, revealed that at the Camp Street facility contraband was “basically a multimillion-dollar business”. He also explained that “for the last two years” since he has held the post of Officer in Charge, pounds of narcotics have been removed, causing inmates to incur significant losses.“The record is there to show that I would have removed pounds of marijuana during raids and thousands of packs of cigarettes were found…if you do the mathematics based on the resale value in prison, those prisoners would have lost significant amount of cash and all those are reasons why they would not like a person like me around,” the Deputy Director of Prisons expressed.“Many of them [prisoners] manage to maintain families, many of them manage to pay a lot of fees that are attached to their imprisonment while in there…I’m putting systems in place to prevent them from carrying out those businesses [and] more than likely, they’re gonna be affected,” Samuels further observed.In responding to assertions that he gave orders to lock the prison door, Samuels once again reiterated that he “was not there at the beginning of the exercise” on the day of the March 3 “big fire” which claimed the lives of 17 inmates.The Attorney representing the Guyana Prison Service and Guyana Police Force, Selwyn Pieters, who was also present when his witness was speaking to the media, noted that video evidence would reveal that it was a much lower-ranked prison officer who uttered statements that the door should be locked.Pieters explained, “There’s actually a video that exists, that shows when the door was locked, shows who locked the door, and showed who gave the order to lock the door and it was somebody way below Senior Superintendent Samuel’s rank – that was Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Hudson, and at the point in time where that order was given.”The media was also told that at the time this order was supposedly given, prisoners were rioting and there was one “aggressive” prisoner “Shaka McKenzie” who was said to be “instigating prisoners” and the prisoners “rushed the door” with improvised weapons.When asked if he would “opt out” of his position after all of the controversy associated with the riots, Deputy Director Samuels offered no comment.Continuing his testimony on Wednesday, Samuels provided evidence to show that he travelled to Bartica on March 2 and returned early on March 3. Under cross-examination, Samuels also disclosed that only prisoners on remand were housed in the Capital A section of the prison.The Deputy Director told the Commission that it was he who told Acting Director of Prisons Carl Graham that the prisoners were trapped in the Capital A block. When asked about training in negotiations and crisis management, Samuels posited that “all officers are exposed to basic training”, but he could not speak to formal training.With regard to the door being eventually opened to release the prisoners, Samuels conceded that indeed 10 minutes was too long. When the cross-examination team attempted to corroborate the statements of witness Cleveland Hudson to that of Deputy Director Samuels, Attorney Pieters reminded Commissioners that Hudson’s testimony was done “in-camera” [away from the public].At the afternoon session, Joan Ward-Mars, the Attorney associated with the Linden Legal Aid Centre who is representing two inmates, petitioned the Commission to have Deputy Director Samuels be recalled in-camera so that he could speak to statements which Hudson had made. These statements are at the moment classified as members of the media were disallowed from observing some of testimonies of prison officers.
Robert RollinsVivanand ChandarA Corentyne man, who appeared in the Berbice Assizes on Tuesday, was given 24 hours to find an attorney to defend him.Justice Jo Ann Barlow only allowed the defendant, Robert Rollings, one day to get legal representation after the defendant related that he would be representing himself at the Preliminary Inquiry (PI).A jury was empanelled on Tuesday for the trial of Rollings. The State’s case, which is being presented by Prosecutor Stacy Goodings, states that on July 3, 2014, Rollings wounded Sharmila Singh in an attempt to commit murder. The incident is said to have been committed on the Corentyne.Rollings is also indicted for the wounding of Singh with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, maim or disfigure.The State is expected to call two witnesses during the trial.Meanwhile, another jury was empanelled on Tuesday for the trial of Vivanand Chandar, who attempted to murder Chobbidat Tajram on August 16, 2012. It is also alleged that on the same day Chandar wounded Tajram with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, maim or disfigure.The trial of Chandar is scheduled to commence on Thursday.
First clarification must be made as to what African Masters are being referred to here. Please note that these are not African slave Masters, Head Masters or Master Sergeants! The Masters referred to here are those great African artists/craftsmen of many centuries ago, whose “classical” works of art have claimed so much attention that they are now objects of world-tour. True to that, the pieces were on display in major art institutions in the US during 2010. They have been a great marvel at the British Museum (BM) in London, which is today the proud custodian of these priceless pieces.For over three decades, Africans scholars as well as civil societies concerned with African heritage both on and outside of the continent have been part of a chorus that is continually clamoring for the return of precious pieces such as the Face of Idia, the ivory mask of Queen Idia of the then Benin Empire among other great works of art by African masters on grounds that the pieces were said to have been looted, trafficked, seized or simply bartered for item(s) far below their true value. Research has also shown that some of the pieces in question were given as gifts to some of the collectors that presently possess them today, “a case in point was in 1973 when General Yakubu Gowon, the then Nigerian head of state, took an antique brass head of a Benin King from the National Museum in Lagos and presented it as a gift to the Queen of England on her state visit [to that nation]” (New African magazine, May 2010 issue).When an item is given as a gift, it becomes the legitimate property of the one who receives that gift, however, often at times friends or relatives of the generous giver will frown when they consider the item is too precious to be given as a gift! Sometimes also, displeasure is made known when an item is believed to have been sold for a price far below its true value. A friend from la Cote d’Ivoire confirmed this during a candid conversation, to the point of drawing parallel between the above and the current crisis in that country: years ago, some not-so-wealthy Ivoirians sold their lands in order to educate their children, once educated, the children discovered that their desperate parents were ‘cheated’ on the land deal, now, they want these lands back! Similar scenario is unfolding all over Liberia.While for the most part there is no clear reliable knowledge as to whether these works of art by African Masters were legally obtained or not, the debate and call for their return to their countries of origins continues to grow daily, gaining new audiences and forums every time, yet, Africans have not come to a point to award credit to the artists behind the pieces or intellectual properties. Giving credit to writers, musicians and artists for their intellectual works is a very important issue in the creative world today. Even if these masters whose works have claimed world attention and debate at the same time are not known by name, because perhaps sufficient research has not been made in that direction, the synergies of African scholars and heritage civil societies are geared toward bringing the pieces back! Oh, that’s nice; interest is in the pieces and not the people that created the pieces. In Europe and the Americas, people who did such incredible works are referred to today as “Masters”. I am sure our African scholars have seen the word before. If, on the other hand, we do not want to be repetitive, using the same words, why can’t a befitting name be coined for those artists?If a befitting name cannot be found today to describe past African artists, it is very unlikely that a name will be found for present day artists on the continent. Where does this leave us then? Will we not find ourselves singing a new song after another two centuries from today? Many may say no, but the answer is yes!Today a demand is made for works of art whose creators we do not know, at the same time ignoring the present works created by the African artist just next door, sometimes even ignoring his very existence and atelier. A typical example is the 2008 scenario in Liberia, where an entire cultural village that came to life in the 60s was demolished in favor of a modern resort center just outside the capital Monrovia (see Daily Observer Vol. 12 No. 66 ‘“Minister [of culture] Misled Me” – President [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] on Kendeja Riot’ & Vol.12 No 70 ‘Bropleh [Minister of Culture] to Face Legislative Inquest – on Kendeja School Project’).If solid structures are not put in place now to safeguard present works of art being created on the continent by African artists and craftsmen, what will be done with the 600 pieces currently being exhibited by the British Museum, not to mention the 200,000 pieces in the Museum’s warehouse if it was brought back on the continent? What about the 580 pieces in the Ethnology Museum in Berlin; or 400 pieces in the Field Museum, Chicago; and the Art Institute of Chicago that has 20 pieces?Thanks to countries such as France, Italy and Germany for returning some of these artifacts to Nigeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. From all indications, it is known that very good care is being taken of the pieces. Why? It is because the countries concerned missed those precious pieces for a very long time, and one would only develop love for something that one misses, in this case, these priceless artifacts created by African masters many, many years ago? Another big thanks to Germany again for retuning the “Stone Alligator” piece to Liberia! But for now, let the rest of the pieces remain where they have been all along. Their current homes, where they have been over the past decades, are now their ‘natural habitat’.(Editor’s note: this article was first published in 2010, following that publication, a cultural network – ARTerial Network – based in in Cape Town, South Africa asked for permission to post it on its website: www.arterialnetwork.orgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) will today begin intensively to orient 24-newly recruited directors at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) in strategic leadership and management in the public sector.The intensive week-long orientation training is part of the new recruits’ 90-day probation on their academic and criminal records set by the MFDP, as well as a way to formally school them in the public sector reforms of the country.Established in 1969, LIPA is the government’s center for capacity building of civil servants and the institutions at which they work.The training runs from 8a.m. to 2p.m. Monday through Friday, and representatives from the Civil Service Agency and the Governance Commission are expected to join in the training.Some of the topics expected to be taught include: Code of Conduct, Public Financial Management Law and Regulations, Public Procurement Law and Management and Effective Organizational Communication and Time Management as well as Introduction to Public Sector Reforms, Civil Service Standing Order and Public Administration.The Director General of LIPA, Mr. Oblayon Nyemah, told newsmen yesterday that besides the expected week-long training, LIPA has also ended the completion of training of 41 top officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).The newly recruited directors are all employees of the former Ministry of Finance but were recruited through a competitive vetting process recently to beef up the newly established MFDP.They have been classified into four groups: Departments of Fiscal Affairs, Administration, Economic Management and Budget & Planning.The Department of Fiscal Affairs has nine distinct operational offices, to include, Directors of Non-Tax Revenue, Indirect Taxation, Modeling &Forecast, Direct Taxes, Fiscal Decentralization, Financial Approval, Treasury Services, Financial Regulations and Accounting Services. The Department of Budget & Development Planning has the second largest operational squad, namely the directors of Budget Policy &Coordination, Social and Community Services, Economic Services, Public Administration Services, Regional & Sectoral Services, Public Investment, Monitoring & Evaluation and Planning, Development & Coordination.Others include the Directors of Administration, Human Resource, Budget and Finance Integrity, which are under the Department of Administration; while the Directors of Aid Management, Economic Policy and Microeconomics and Financial Policy are part of the Department of Economic Management.It may be recalled that a program to kick-off the orientation of the newly recruited Directors was held last Tuesday at the MFDP building on Broad Street.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Health officials in Margibi County have expressed disbelieved and frustration over the alarming rate of the death toll among health workers in the county due to the deadly Ebola virus disease.Speaking to the Daily Observer Monday, August 11, in Kakata, the Community Health Director of Margibi County, Mr. Joseph J. Korhene, said 26 persons have been so far diagnosed with the disease. Out of the 26, he said 17 have died with 14 of the dead being health workers.The Margibi County Community Health director explained that among the 14 health workers, 12 of them were working with the Charles H. Rennie Hospital, the only public referral health facility in the county.He said two other health workers in the county died with three non-health workers, making the total Ebola death recorded rate to 17.According to him, out of the 26, who had been diagnosed positive with the virus, at least 22 are health workers.Mr. Korhene noted, because of the hard increase in the death toll of health workers, others are now afraid to return to work, as the result almost all of the health centers in the county are closed including the only refer hospital — C.H. Rennie Hospital.He described the death related to the virus in Kakata, the main city in the county, as alarming and that they as local heath workers are arranging workable programs to help protect health workers in the discharge of their duties.According to him, the Margibi County Health Team has begun training health workers across the county in various disciplines as the means of strengthening the workforce in the county.The Margibi County Community Health boss also advanced that plans are on the way for the constructing of what he termed as holding centers for suspected Ebola patients in the county.Mr. Korhene noted that the high death rate among health workers in the county was due to the lack of their capacity to earlier detect Ebola related cases. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)