It is not true that the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding and the death of Dr. Walter Rodney was not made public. The first volume of the Report has been made public. The other volume/s, however, are of critical importance to the completeness of the Report, and ought now to be made public.
The APNU+AFC government – of which the WPA is a part and which it is asking Guyanese to re-elect – aborted the Commission of Inquiry after it was clear that evidence was emerging which was causing embarrassment to the PNCR.
The WPA, by not withdrawing from the government after the APNU+AFC aborted the inquiry, stands morally culpable for the cover-up of the assassination of its co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney. It should hang its head in perpetual shame.
The WPA was then, and still is, a weakling in the Coalition. The party no longer has any moral authority to call upon the government to make public the report. It does not even seem to know that part of the report was made public.
Despite being aborted, the Report was able to come to some conclusive findings. It found, among other things, that the police, the army and others were complicit in hiding and shielding Gregory Smith from being brought to justice for his role in the murder of Rodney
The Report found that Smith was aided and abetted by the police, the army and the political directorate in executing his task. It found that the plot to kill Rodney could only have been carried out with the knowledge of Forbes Burnham, the then President of Guyana.
The Report named persons, including the late Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis, who played significant roles in the conspiracy to kill Rodney. Much more was going to be revealed, and that is why the Inquiry had to have been halted.
The issue of the Opposition parties of the time (APNU and AFC) not being involved in developing the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry is a red herring. That fact had no bearing on the decision to halt the inquiry or to its credibility.
The WPA had objected to one of the terms of reference of the inquiry, claiming it was too wide and ran the risk of poisoning the political environment. The WPA was not interested in the truth being known; it wanted to hide the dirty deeds of its new partner in bed, the PNCR.
Not to have included that specific term of reference would have degutted the Inquiry of context. The WPA’s objection shows just how much the party had degenerated in the years following the assassination of Rodney.
The PPPC never refused to carry out an inquiry into the death of Rodney. People’s memories are conveniently short. It was the Cheddi Jagan administration which invited the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to conduct an inquiry, which they did in March of 1995. And it is well-known that PNCR point man, former Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis, acted as obstructionist to the process by refusing to hand over records which the Commission wanted.
Emerging out of the findings of the mission of the International Commission of Jurists, the then DPP issued instructions for Gregory Smith to be charged for murder. That is where the hurdle to justice emerged.
Smith was hiding out in French Guiana, where he had been tracked down and interviewed by the then Chronicle editor, Sharief Khan. The WPA knew also that he was there.
Unfortunately, the fly in the ointment was French law, which did not allow a person to be extradited to a country which had the death penalty on the law books. This effectively was the roadblock against Smith facing justice.
The PNC kept supporting Smith throughout his exile. Evidence was led in the COI to show that Laurie Lewis, the former Commissioner of Police, had issued instructions to the Central Passport Office for Smith’s Guyanese passport to be renewed.
He was still doing the PNC’s dirty work even after they had been booted out of office. That evidence would most likely have been contained in the second volume of the Report, and perhaps that along with the other damning evidence is added cause for not making the full Report public.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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