Ms. Langevine of the ERC is refusing to release a public document
On Thursday, I telephoned Ms. Langevine, the Administrative Manager of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC). I made a request for a study done in 2010. At that time, the UNDP funded a research conducted by consultant Lawrence Latchman on how the Guyanese society conceptualized the nature and work of the ERC.
Mr. Latchmansingh interviewed over eighty stakeholder-organizations including all, I repeat all the major and not so major political parties. Coretta Mc Donald of the Teachers Union and I represented the TUC.
After completion of his work, a general meeting was called by Mr. Lutchmansingh to present his findings. He indicated that he was not ready with the printed version of the document. At that time the PNC was boycotting the ERC. Ms. Gail Teixeira and Mr. Donald Ramotar represented the PPP. Sheila Holder was the AFC’s delegate. Of the nine ERC Commissioners, only John Willems and Carvil Duncan showed up.
They never spoke. Juan Edghill (I reserve my right not to recognize Mr. Edghill as an ordained Bishop of the Christian denomination) acted in his capacity as Chairman
Mr. Latchmansingh’s findings as adumbrated by him at the meeting were that a majority of stakeholders would like to see the ERC reorganized and that it appeared to be too close to the Government and tended not to be aggressive in pursuing complaints made against the Government. Since that meeting TUC’s President, Norris Witter and I have constantly requested the completed printed version of Mr. Lutchmansingh’s study. We were refused by Mr. Edghill. I went to the then Head of the UNDP in Guyana who funded the research but was told the office never received a copy. I requested the assistant of Mr. Trevor Benn of the UNDP who would have been the person to advise the UNDP to release the funds. Mr. Benn said if it was made available to his employer he would have offered a copy but the ERC never submitted the document
I then spoke to Clinton Urling who at the time was Secretary to the Chamber of Commerce. I indicated to him that the business community had an ERC Commissioner in the form of John Willems and I would be thankful if he can secure the document from Willems. I never heard back from Urling even though I had a very good relation with him and believed he would have helped
I am in need on Mr. Lutchmansingh’s findings for my research. On Thursday, I telephoned Ms. Langevine. I did indicate to her that I was taping the conversation because I did not want to hear that I said this and that when I didn’t. She did not object. First, in relation to the ERC”s meeting with the Opposition Leader last week, she said that visit was unofficial. It was not sanctioned by her office. Secondly, Lutchmansingh’s study cannot be made public because it is a private paper
How can the TUC, the AFC, the office of the Leader of the Opposition be refused a copy of a study that was done for Guyanese stakeholders. It is for us to read it so we can decide on the future of the ERC. By what law or logic is Ms. Langevine refusing to let a major stakeholder see the research? Ms Langevine suggested that I speak to Carvil Duncan because Mr. Duncan represents labour on the ERC. I corrected her by pointing out that Duncan is the alternative delegate. But in any case the TUC has a legitimate right to see the document
By way of the publication of this letter I am calling on the AFC, APNU, the Private Sector Commission, the Speaker of the House, the Leader of the Opposition to request a copy of Mr. Lutchmansingh’s paper. Ms. Langevine has no legal basis for withholding the research. It is a public paper. I will ask a lawyer to write Ms. Langevine. One final comment.
The ERC’s budget has been shortened by the Opposition which wants to see transparency and accountability. The ERC can persuade the Opposition to change its mind if it starts being accountable to the entity that funds it – the population of Guyana