Speaker rules against Gov’t-proposed amendments
– says they violate Standing Orders
By Abena Rockcliffe
The Government-proposed amendments to a Motion tabled by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) leader David Granger, which called for an investigation into incidents of criminal violence from 2004 to 2010, were yesterday ruled against by Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman.
Trotman stated that the proposals are not admissible as it violates Standing Orders of the National Assembly.
The last Parliamentary sitting saw the Speaker’s refusal to allow consideration of the amendments offered by the Government side and presented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall.
The Speaker’s justification as to why he deferred consideration of the amendments was that he hadn’t enough time to review the document but had recognised contents that need further attention.
Earlier this week, at a press briefing, Trotman dubbed the Amendments “scandalous” and told media operatives that if matters pertaining to those Amendments had gone ahead, “Guyana could have gotten a civil war.” He had also opined that some of the material in the Amendments ought not to have been published.
Further, Trotman stated that the Clerk, Sherlock Isaacs, given the controversial nature of the Amendments, should have ensured that it was brought to his attention before the 35th sitting of the National Assembly of the first session of the Tenth Parliament was convened.
Yesterday, the Speaker in a statement said that Nandlall’s proposed amendments offend Parliament’s Standing Orders. Therefore, he advised the Attorney General to make the necessary changes, as recommended by him, or to withdraw the amendments entirely.
Granger’s motion had stated that “this country has witnessed a pattern of unlawful killing of undetermined numbers of persons – including assassinations; executions; murders; extra-judicial killings by members of the Guyana Police Force Target Special Squad and other forms of criminal violence in Guyana during a period of ‘troubles’…
Several of these killings have been of a deliberate and systematic nature – particularly those which occurred at Agricola; Bartica; Buxton; Eccles; Lindo Creek; Lusignan and Bel Air, Bourda and Kitty in Georgetown – which can be classified as massacres and have engendered alarm and despondency among the population. Some killings involved members of the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and unidentified criminal gangs in which gangsters were equipped with a variety of electronic ‘eavesdropping’ equipment, weapons and vehicles that were provided with assistance and support by members of the Guyana Defence Force.”
Granger, in his Motion, also pointed out the killing of Government Minister Satyadeo ‘Sash’ Sawh.
Yesterday, Trotman said that “I refer in particular, to references to sitting and former Members of Parliament, and other former and current leaders and superior officers of political parties and disciplined forces, and their “linkages” to criminal gangs; these, in my considered opinion, offend Standing Orders 26 (b), (c) and (d).”
The Speaker noted that apart from the fact that names of persons are inserted, and that some of them are not present to “mount a defence of their characters,” the amendments also make statements that appear to be “fact” and yet seek to have a Commission of Inquiry inquire into the very matters.
He said the amendments in their present form are beyond the pale of what is expected, and acceptable, as coming from a Member of Parliament of the National Assembly.
Trotman’s amendments are as follows:
“And whereas it was believed that there was a key and critical role and interference by many known figures and some media houses;”
“That the President considers including in the terms of reference of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission the following:
“Was there any connection between media houses and the criminal gangs? and
“Were there any linkages between public officials and the criminal gangs?”
“Was there a cover-up of the assignation of the 1973 Ballot Box martyrs, Father Darke and Walter Rodney?”