– but says integrity testing not the way
By Latoya Giles
Opposition Leader, Brigadier (ag) David Granger, has thrown President Donald Ramotar’s notion of ‘Integrity tests’ for senior Government functionaries out the window.
Although the approach to stamping out corruption by the President is welcomed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Granger opined that integrity testing is not the way to go.
President Donald Ramotar on Thursday last stated that ‘integrity tests’ would be compulsory for persons holding senior positions within the Guyana Police Force.
Granger was questioned following Ramotar’s announcement on whether the integrity tests should be done in the Force and in a wider context, for government officials. According to Granger, the President should push his focus towards establishing integrity legislation and not on testing.
Granger told Kaieteur News that Government needs to be more careful in the way they select persons for high office.
The Opposition Leader stressed that Government should be more responsive to public calls and complaints about corruption or wrongdoings by public officials.
He recalled that in 2012 when a Parliamentary motion was passed against Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, Government did not take heed to the call.
Another example cited by Granger was that of former Government Minister Kellawan Lall who left the Cabinet after a series of allegations ranging from a shooting incident to drunk driving. The Government did not sever ties with Lall; instead he was appointed Ambassador to Brazil.
“The public has concerns on how the Government is going about with appointments and a system of testing would not solve the problem,” Granger noted.
“The Government will not test its Cabinet members, but when their incapacity is shown they should remove the person.”
“It’s not a matter of tests, the real thing is performance,” Granger told Kaieteur News.
He added that it would be dangerous to use polygraph tests for a single event. According to the President, strong measures should be taken to fight corruption in and outside of the Force. He stressed that the leaders should be examples to the younger ranks, adding that this would help change the quality of the institution.
Ramotar emphasised that for future appointments to senior positions in the Force, and into some new organizations which are being created, there must and will be some form of integrity testing. This is happening in several areas already, he noted. He said that the Force has to ensure that ranks are free from any form of criminality.
In June 2009, four ranks from the police Narcotics Branch were transferred with immediate effect after they failed polygraph tests. They were at the time stationed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri. The tests were conducted in February of that year and the results were made known to the ranks. The Narcotics Branch is the second local drug enforcement agency to undergo the test, following a similar exercise for ranks of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).
In October 2010, four ranks from CANU were dismissed for failing to turn up for lie detector tests. They had objected to the tests being conducted. The controversial tests came under fire from several persons within the trade unions, who stated that using it as a basis to determine workers’ integrity was not legal. The U.S federal law governing lie-detector tests stipulates that an employee cannot be fired for failing or refusing to take the test. According to the Global Polygraph Network, employers are permitted to request that employees submit to a polygraph exam under some specific conditions as provided for by U.S. federal law.
Last year, another exercise was conducted where staffers of the Police’s Narcotics Branch and Guyana Energy Agency were among those tested. Several of the staffers attached to the GEA were fired. Some have taken the agency to task and have filed court proceedings.
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