Mar 08, 2013 News
The government yesterday said that it is likely to award compensation only as dictated by the Commission of Inquiry, which handed over its report on the Linden unrest to President Ramotar last week.
Three persons were killed on July 18, 2012, the first day of protests against electricity rate hikes in the mining town. The Commission, set up to investigate and award compensation, recommended $3 million each to the estates of Shemroy Boyea and Allan Lewis and $2 million to the estate of teenager Ron Somerset.
The Alliance for Change (AFC) was staggered by the awards for compensation, and said that a minimum, the awards for the death of the three men should have been set at $15 million each.
“We are disappointed with the extremely low awards of damages for the families of the deceased. We believe that the right of life is guaranteed by Article 139 of the constitution, and given the fact that the commissioners found that the Guyana Police Force had used unjustified lethal force, the awards that were eventually announced were particularly low,” chairman of the AFC Nigel Hughes stated.
Hughes also expressed surprise at the statement of one of the Commissioners, retired Chancellor Cecil Kennard, who is quoted by the Stabroek News as having said that the compensation was so awarded because the Police did not fire to kill, but rather to scare the protestors.
“The statement itself scares me, because at the end of the day if you’re dead, whether you died because you were being scared or whether you’re dead because somebody intended to kill you, does not make a difference. In addition to which I don’t know that the Guyana Police Force has a mandate to scare citizens. I think their mandate is to control crowds in difficult circumstances,” Hughes stated.
He indicated that he would be seeking via the Attorney General to have the awards “reviewed upwards.”
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon indicated that the government would not bow to criticism of the compensation package, but would award it as written by the Commissioners.
Meanwhile, Luncheon said that the government also accepted, though grudgingly and “with a drop of salt”, the conclusion of the Commission that the shooting was done by the Police.
He said it was a case of the Commissioners saying “We don’t have anyone else to blame, so let’s blame you, the Police.”
He disclosed that Cabinet’s review of the report was focused on the comprehensive dismissal of the allegations against Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, and added that the ongoing “demonising of Rohee” was linked to the Linden protests with an “imagined role” that he had something to do with the order to fire at protestors.
Luncheon said that the government stands by the findings of the Commission which exonerated Rohee.
He stated that the administration is still studying the report and would subsequently make a full and detailed pronouncement.
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