GTUC speaks out on police shooting to death of Agricola teen
Every government is expected to set legitimate standards for the society to embrace. The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) implores the nation to unite in the fight to secure an environment where those entrusted the responsibility and duty to manage our affairs, protect and serve us, do so consistent with the Constitution, international conventions and universal declarations. As a people we are contained by a single space called Guyana and what affects one invariably affect all.
Guyana Police Force
Since November 2011, this country has been facing open and brazen assaults by the GPF, in almost daredevil fashion to goad actions to create the environment for political instability. The fact that the people have adopted progressive approaches in the management of their wellbeing, which also include holding the administration to account, which see the resort by the powers that be to engage in diversionary and oppressive tactics to create a combustible environment, must be rejected by all. The senseless gunning down of 17-year old Shaquille Grant and injury of 20-year old Romel Bollers in Agricola on September 11th is an intensification of undue force and bestiality that have become the GPF hallmark. This degeneracy has to come to a halt less it escalates and become untenable.
Recall the first attack on December 6, 2011 on a peaceful procession in Georgetown that had within its midst former Commissioner of Police Winston Felix and Brigadier (ret) Edward (Eddie) Collins. This resulted in injuries to Collins, youth, women and children. The July 18 deaths and injuries of persons engaged in protest action in Linden which police permission was granted, followed by the pre-dawn raids and attacks on residents on August 10 and 12; now September 11, are symptomatic of organised planning.
Mr. Clement Rohee designated Minister of Home Affairs retains office even as the nation’s highest decision-making forum (National Assembly) voted no-confidence in his ability to perform said duties.
Note is taken of the visit to Agricola by former Commissioner of Police Winston Felix and Brigadier (ret) David Granger and their statements to the GPF. The GTUC is encouraged and urge these former military professionals, now turned politicians, to use their political muscles and partner with the society to rid the Force of the miscreants and create one that embraces the rule of law, the rights of citizens, and value the community as critical to crime fighting. As former practitioners, both gentlemen are in a better position than most in understanding the limitations and constrains faced by noble officers desirous of executing their duties consistent with international standards and free of political interference. The enabling environment must be created to make it a reality.
The GTUC is prepared to join hands to give true meaning to the full enforcement of the Disciplined Forces Commission Report, the Coroner’s Act and necessary amendment(s) to the Police Act, Chapter 16:01 via the use of the parliament and extra-parliamentary actions to bring about the desired change.
Ministry of Education textbooks- executive lawlessness
The government’s argument that its decision to source pirate textbooks is driven by economics, conscious that it is violating time honoured principles, laws and rules of engagement among its CARICOM partners, is to concede a behaviour that is not dis-similar to the pirates who prey on our fishermen. The cabinet has within its midst attorneys-at-law in the Minister of Legal Affairs and Minister of Education and it is reasonable to expect that they would have guided their colleagues on the importance of the law. The fact that this evaded cabinet’s decision making is indicative of the pervasive executive lawlessness engulfing this nation.
One of the major thrust of CARICOM is harnessing the region’s cultural resources to benefit the people within the framework of respecting property rights. Thus the blatant act by the Government in seeking to contract an agency to duplicate textbooks produced in a sister state is wrong. Even more disturbing is that the Trinidad and Tobago-based Royards Publishing Company bid for its own work and is among the lowest bidder, which sheds another bad spotlight on this nation.
Notwithstanding our archaic copyright law and the tendency to seek false immunity under same, Guyana on October 25, 1994 ascended to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and January 1, 1995 to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and is therefore expected to comply with the principles outlined therein. However poor a nation, a government does not have to violate conventions/agreements/laws to meet the people’s needs. It can still provide goods and services to the people through ethical trade practices and in this instance engaging in negotiation with the publishers to ensure intellectual property rights (IPR) are upheld. Brand/product/service can be provided to meet the affordability of society’s various economic strata.
Citizens are reminded when Jamaica chose to import rice from the USA instead of Guyana; this country went to CARICOM and invoked the CSME’s rules, primarily to get Jamaica to purchase from us. This decision was taken in full awareness that had Jamaica taken its business out of the region when said good can be purchased in the region it would have been a violation of the rules and moreso impacted negatively on the economic wellbeing of the rice industry and GDP.
Thus the implication for government reciprocity cannot be overlooked since it threatens the livelihood of those in the art and literacy industries and it may become difficult for said workers to effectively prosecute any violation of their rights because our Government is culpable of violating the IPR of others within the CARICOM family. A government has the responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and respect those it does business with. To do otherwise is to deny the workers the right to earn. As a member of the regional/ international family Guyana’s image and relations with others is hurt, when the Government leads the way in flouting international standards and more so rob workers the just reward for their labour.
To be conscious that the action is wrong but deliberately set out to implement the wrong is to an ominous signal to CARICOM that the country is not prepared to respect conventions, agreements and laws, and this can open the gate for retaliation. The administration ought to be reminded that apart from creating jobs and receiving revenue from traditional products, the region had made significant inroads in intellectual production and all legitimate efforts must be made to safeguard and advance it.
Lincoln Lewis- General Secretary