Aug 17, 2015 News
– Rodney group tells Gov’t
As it renewed its calls for the new government to allow the inquiry into Dr. Walter Rodney’s death to be completed, the Justice for Walter Rodney Committee said that national reconciliation cannot arise in a vacuum, but rather through truth telling.
“Commissions of Inquiries are established to find the truth and this inquiry was no different. The world is waiting on the findings of this Commission,” the Committee said as it responded to comments made by Government Ministers recently with regards to the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (WRCOI).
In a statement titled: “Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry was about Justice Delayed – Government Ministers should not disparage and denigrate, Cabinet should govern”, the body took note of statements made by Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams and Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman.
It said the comments attributed to the officials demonstrated that they are “on a campaign to disparage, denigrate, and thus create the impression that the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry did not accomplish anything of substance.”
One of the objectives of the Inquiry was to get to the truth as to the circumstances that led to the death of Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980. The Committee said it will be in the interest of the government that the Commission completes its work so that all of the evidence and the hearings can be placed in the public domain.
“By making the recommendation to cabinet to disallow more time for the testimony of crucial witnesses to allow for a smooth and proper completion of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Williams is seeking to mold the public’s perception on the real historical meaning of this Inquiry,” the body said.
The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee reminded of the importance of crucial material witnesses before a Commission of Inquiry, insisting that the inquiry was not a waste of time.
Rather than allow the continuation of the hearings for two weeks upon the request of the Commissioners, and other interested parties, the cabinet voted against due process, the body noted.
“Mr. Trotman’s characterization of the ‘collective decision taken by cabinet’ to disallow the continuation of the hearings for two weeks in his words, that is according to the report in the Guyana Chronicle of July 30, 2015, was not only to save the money of taxpayers, but also what he called “further embarrassment”, is particularly disturbing,” the body said.
“As a global committee of activists interested in fairness, equality, and social justice for Walter Rodney, we are appalled by any attempt to play with the truth in order to dismiss a Commission of Inquiry headed by a distinguished Caribbean Jurist, and which comprised two other acclaimed jurists. Non-Governmental persons and organizations cannot compel government, we can petition government,” it reminded.
According to the body, the response of governments to petitions produces for the public at large a deep sense of the character of government.
“As such, to make the claim without evidence to back up the claim that the extension sought by the eminent panel of Caribbean jurists, that is the three commissioners; the lawyers representing the WPA, Donald Rodney, and the Rodney family would not deliver anything that is earth shattering, is very perplexing,” the body chided.
The proceedings of this inquiry are being closely followed by Guyanese and non-Guyanese across the world.
“Among those paying close attention to the inquiry are lay people, academics, media people, jurists, at least one Chief Justice in an important global jurisdiction, Members of Parliament in several locations of the world, Prime Ministers in several countries, and others,” the body claimed.
“It is disturbing that senior spokesperson of a government that came to power on the banner of national healing and reconciliation would be involved in this kind of desecration of the Walter Rodney enquiry. Walter Rodney is a national hero of Guyana,” the body ended.
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