Backer attempts to defend contempt charge before Parliamentary Committee of Privileges
People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Member of Parliament (MP), Deborah Backer, is currently making attempts to commence defending herself against charges currently before the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges that she is guilty of contempt of the National Assembly for making offensive statements about the disciplined forces of Guyana.
To this end, Backer has tabled a motion which is due to be debated on Monday, in which she is seeking leave from the House to question through her legal counsel, the mover of the motion which had referred her to the Committee of Privileges, Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh.
Contrary to an erroneous report carried in a section of the media, such leave has not yet been granted.
During the October 22 sitting of the National Assembly, Minister Singh moved a motion which sought the referral of Backer before the Committee of Privileges under Standing Order 32 of the National Assembly.
The matter arose from the debate of a motion at the October 15 sitting, tabled by Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, which sought to deploy 90 ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to provide security support to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in November.
In her argument, Backer questioned whether Guyanese soldiers were going to Trinidad and Tobago “to torture people”.
In agreeing to refer Backer to the Committee of Privileges on charges of contempt of the National Assembly, members of the Government’s side have expressed the view that her offensive statement casts aspersions on the thousands of hardworking young Guyanese men and women who serve with distinction in the Disciplined Forces and their families and, by extension, is an affront to the Guyanese people.
When the National Assembly considered the motion to refer Backer to the Committee of Privileges, Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran ruled in favour of proceeding with a motion which signaled unanimous disapproval of the said statement purportedly made by Backer.
At that time, the Speaker also made a pronouncement that a prima facie case had been established against Backer, clearing the way for the matter to be taken before the Committee of Privileges.
Earlier last year, 66 GDF ranks as well as 31 ranks from the GPF were deployed to Trinidad and Tobago for the Fifth Summit of The Americas. During this deployment Director of Security for the Summit, Trinidadian Lt. Colonel Kenrick Maharaj was quoted as describing Guyana ’s support as invaluable.