Sep 24, 2011 News
The Kaieteur News defendants in the libel suit initiated by President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday made another effort to question President Bharrat Jagdeo’s chief witness, Dr Roger Luncheon, on a UN expert report on racism in Guyana.
This was after the case was delayed by a bomb scare for a few hours. The trial was expected to continue at 10:00 h, but the bomb scare caused a postponement to 13:00 h.
As the day’s questioning of Luncheon wrapped up, President Jagdeo’s attorney Anil Nandlall begged the court for time to make a written submission detailing his reason why the Kaieteur News defence team cannot admit into evidence the 2009 report of independent expert Gay McDougall who had visited Guyana for the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Nandlall said the document was inadmissible and that the defence team was trying to get it admitted into evidence through the backdoor.
Nandlall’s objection came after attorney at law Khemraj Ramjattan got Dr Luncheon to say that he was aware of the government’s repudiation, or rejection of the report. Dr Luncheon testified that he, as Cabinet Secretary, had organised the response to the McDougal report, but did not personally help to generate the content of the government’s response.
Dr Luncheon testified that he ensured that the government’s response was provided to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for transmittal to the United Nations, and that he, Dr Luncheon, was quite familiar with the document at the time.
It was after Ramjattan asked Dr Luncheon if he would be in a position to identify the report and provide a copy of the government’s response that Nandlall raised his objection that the defense team was trying to admit the report into evidence, when it was an inadmissible document.
Nandlall was given time to make his objection in writing, and Justice Brassington Reynolds requested that he afford Ramjattan the objection, to which he, Ramjattan, would respond, also in writing.
President Jagdeo is suing for $10 million, claiming that a column entitled ‘King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference’ pointed to President Jagdeo as King Kong. The President has claimed that the article suggests that he is a racist and that “by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, practise racism as an ideology, dogma, philosophy and policy.”
The UN expert Gay McDougal visited Guyana between July 28 and August 1, 2008.
The independent expert’s visit to Guyana focused on the relations between and comparative situations of Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese. She considered the legacy and impact on communities of an ethnically divided society and ethnic-based politics, and made recommendations to ensure that non-discrimination and equality is achieved through legislation,
policy and practice.
During her visit, she travelled to Georgetown and surrounding communities. She held consultations with the President, Ministers and other senior government representatives, NGOs, civil society groups, political parties, religious leaders, academics and others working in the field of minority issues and anti-discrimination.
According to the report published online, the independent expert visited communities, including Buxton, and talked to community members about their lives and issues.
According to the report, Afro-Guyanese with whom McDougall met, described feeling excluded from having a full voice and stake in the national polity and equal enjoyment of rights in many fields of life including employment and economic participation, and they reported stigmatization of young Afro-Guyanese males and entire African communities.
She noted that particular challenges affect women from minority communities, including a scarcity of employment opportunities for women from Afro-Guyanese communities, the extremely heavy burden of care shouldered by single mothers, and a disturbing culture of domestic violence, often fuelled by poverty and unemployment in their communities.
Women feel that domestic violence cases are not treated seriously by the criminal justice system, McDougall stated.
Women’s participation in political processes remains well below levels of equality, she found.
She said that current anti-discrimination legislation and policies are insufficient to address discrimination, exclusion and ethnically based bias.
McDougal said that new and robust anti-discrimination and equality plan of action is required to be applied across all sectors of society to break down the barriers that have become ingrained in Guyana.
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