– Nigel Hughes
By Abena Rockcliffe
Attorney at Law and Alliance for Change (AFC) executive Nigel Hughes, yesterday, at the party’s weekly press briefing stated emphatically that the AFC remains in solidarity with Linden.
Hughes said that from the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee’s recent comments, “it is clear that after 20 years as a minister, Rohee doesn’t understand the concept of ministerial responsibilities”.
The lawyer said that it is by no means a question of whether or not the minister wishes to hide in a cupboard or whether or not he was at the scene of the shooting. Hughes said that the ministerial responsibility arises out of the fact that he is the minister and should be in control of all that falls under his ministry.
He said that “as a result of the recent killings and other related events, the minister has indicated his inability to manage and the Guyana Police Force’s inability to comply with Standard Operating Procedures”.
Hughes then cited prior instances where Rohee failed to act lawfully and justly pertaining to his portfolio as Home Affairs Minister. Those included the Lindo Creek incident, the Leonora trauma where a teen’s genital area was torched at the area’s police station and the December 6 shooting where Attorney at Law James Bond of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and former Chief of Staff Eddie Collins, were among several persons injured by rubber bullets.
Further, Hughes pointed out that the Minister publicly stated that he held a meeting the day before the Linden killings where he ordered that no live rounds should be used at the protest.
According to Hughes, the use of live rounds indicates that the minister “exercises very little influence over the police force.”
“It must be evident to him (Rohee) that clearly he cannot possibly continue to remain in that office, the minister should have no other option but to resign.”
Hughes went on to inform that the AFC has retained the services of a prominent Caribbean pathologist, who will arrive today to witness the post mortem examinations of the three persons killed in Linden.
Further, Hughes cited a United Nations covenant titled ‘basic principle on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials’ article 24, that was adopted by Guyana, which read “government and law enforcement agencies shall ensure that superior officers are held responsible if they know, or should have known, that law enforcement officials under their command are resorting, or have resorted, to the unlawful use of force and firearms, and they did not take all measures in their power to prevent, suppress or report such use.”
Hughes said that in light of the fact that the minister had made it known of his undertaking with superior officers the previous day and that Guyana has subscribed to the treaty, makes it absolutely necessary that the superior officers be held responsible.
Hughes said that AFC’s position is for the superior officer not only be interdicted, but brought before the court with charges of murder since “he has violated the covenant.”
To support the call, Hughes also cited from the same covenant, article 26, which read “Obedience to superior orders shall be no defence if law enforcement officials knew that an order to use force and firearms resulting in the death or serious injury of a person was manifestly unlawful, and had a reasonable opportunity to refuse to follow it.”
The prominent Attorney said that after talking with Sharma Solomon, Region 10 Chairman, the AFC intends to, on behalf of Linden, immediately move to the United Nations Human Rights Commission for violations of the provisions of “this treaty.”
Also, Hughes referred to the ‘International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ article 21 and said that the covenant has been directly imported to the Local Constitution act 154.
Article 21 reads “the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other that those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the right and freedoms or others.”
Further, from the said treaty article 41A, Hughes read that, “If a state party to the present covenant considers that another state party is not giving effect to the provisions of the present covenant, it may, by written communication, bring the matter to the attention of the state.”
With that cited, Hughes announced that Linden will immediately write to all the heads of Government of Caricom, who are also signatories of the treaty, explaining what has occurred and inviting them to make an immediate complaint against the government of Guyana to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
He made mention that the move is a way for AFC to give Caricom the opportunity not to repeat the “apparent” transgressions that the late President Cheddi Jagan complained about in 1992 when he took office; which was that he seek the intervention of Caricom for free and fair elections, but Caricom didn’t respond.
Hughes said that the move is not basis for a “dramatic effect” but it is based on the fact that today marks one week since the incident and the government has essentially done nothing.
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