Jul 05, 2008 News Comments Off on Opposition parties’ petition to CARICOM in limbo
The fate of the Opposition parties’ petition to CARICOM leaders is now in limbo. This was related by General Secretary of the People’s National Congress, Oscar Clarke, yesterday during the weekly press briefing.
According to Clarke, following the submission of the Petition on Tuesday last to CARICOM Chair Baldwin Spencer, he was informed that in order for the petition to be placed on the agenda it had to be submitted by a Head of State, and to date no assurances have been given by any of the Heads present at the conference.
The idea of a petition to have CARICOM Heads intervene surfaced last May when the Opposition parties held a joint press briefing and made the announcement.
The petition was circulated throughout the country and managed to acquire some 8,000-plus signatures before it was presented to Prime Minister Baldwin.
Withdrawal of the sedition charges against Oliver Hinckson and his immediate release from custody, and the revocation of the suspension of the licence of CNS TV Channel 6, owned by C. N. Sharma, were among the many interventions that the joint opposition Parliamentary parties are seeking from CARICOM leaders
According to Leader of the main opposition PNCR, Robert Corbin, the petition calls on the leaders of sister CARICOM countries to uphold shared ideals of freedom, peace and justice by furthering the legitimate aspirations of “our people for a society free from debilitating conflict, violence and fear of the future.”
When questioned about the non response of the former CARICOM Chairman, Hubert Ingraham, to Corbin’s previous request for interventions into Guyana, Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman, was of the opinion that “we have to keep pressing the issue and hope that this time they are more sympathetic.”
That petition was also supported by leader of the Guyana Action Party (GAP), Paul Hardy.
According to Corbin, among the issues contained in that petition was the unilateral and arbitrary decision by the President of Guyana, in his capacity as minister responsible for administering the Wireless and Telegraphy Act, inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the law, to suspend, by a procedure that was manifestly unfair and contrary to natural justice, the licence of CNS TV Channel 6, a private local television station, for four months; Prolonged inaction or outright refusal to enact broadcast legislation and establish an independent National Broadcasting Authority, based on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Radio Monopoly, non-partisan boards and broadcasting legislation.
The report and recommendations of the Committee were adopted by the President and the late Leader of the Opposition, Desmond Hoyte, in December 2001.
The petition also focused on the unlawful appointment of the Integrity Commission by the President, in breach of Section 3 of the Integrity Commission Act No. 20 of 1997.
All attempts to have this matter determined by the courts, over the last four years, have proved futile, the petition stated.
The Integrity Commission was established to promote probity in public life.
The extension of the life of an improperly constituted Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) in 2006, by the President; the arrest and detention of, and the subsequent laying of unsustainable charges of sedition against Oliver Hinckson, retired Lieutenant of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF),who has been refused bail while his case has been repeatedly adjourned at the behest of lawyers for the prosecution; and the use of brutal torture by the security forces against citizens, including Victor Jones, Patrick Sumner and David Zammett, in contravention of the International Convention Against Torture ratified by the Government, among others, were among the other issues contained in the petition.
Regarding the CARICOM opposition leaders body, Corbin said that taking the issue to that forum would have been of no use, given that that body has been defunct for some time.
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