Guyana’s President Granger has dismissed the report of the Walter Rodney Presidential Commission of Inquiry, without making the findings public. The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee insists that the report should be released to Dr Rodney’s family, lawyers representing all sides and to the people of Guyana.
Yesterday, February 24, President David Granger, in person, let the world know that he considered the Report of the Walter Rodney Presidential Commission of Inquiry established by his predecessor and continued by him to be "deeply flawed" and does not reflect “the truth.” Announcing that copies of the Report had been circulated but that he was unable to obtain the views of Cabinet as he had been traveling, the President indicated that he would challenge the Report’s findings and “the circumstances under which that Report was conducted.”
The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee notes that the President is commenting on a Report that is yet to be released to the public. We wish to repeat our call on the President to release the Report to Dr. Rodney’s family, the lawyers representing all parties at the Inquiry and to the media. Indeed, now that the President has publicly pronounced on the Report, it is incumbent on him to release it to the public. Years from now new generations may find it strange that a government had hindered persons in search of information vital to them and the health of the society.
President Granger has faulted the Commission for letting in much hearsay, but in this regard he named only one witness whom he described as a “convict.” The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee hopes that the President in his next broadside at the still hidden Report will say whether all hearsay is out of place or only if a convict is the witness.
President Granger should also be reminded that it was no less a person than his current Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams, who introduced to the Commission the most important piece of hearsay evidence: the book allegedly co-authored by army Sergeant Gregory Smith but published several years after his death. Under cross-examination, Smith’s sister and co-author was shattered when the book was exposed as a complete fabrication.
The President made reference to the fact that former Crime Chief “Skip” Roberts was not allowed to testify and former Army Head Norman McLean did not complete his testimony. We wish to remind President Granger that it was he who, despite the strenuous pleas of lawyers and the parties represented at the Commission, brought the Commission of Inquiry to an abrupt end. The President cannot have it both ways: he cannot stop the Inquiry and later, when the findings are adverse to his interest, lament the absence of their testimony.
President Granger, in claiming that the Commission did not give the “Guyana people what they deserve, that is to say what were the circumstances under which Dr. Rodney acquired a certain device and how that device came to be detonated” not only attempts to rewrite the Commission’s Terms of Reference but completely overlooks the expert evidence by a witness whose credibility and evidence were not affected even after extensive cross-examination by the team of attorneys representing his Party.
It is regrettable that the President has once again raised the issue of the cost of the Commission. Our Committee is on record as being sensitive to the instances of wastage surrounding the Inquiry, but we find it highly improper for the entire Inquiry to be measured in dollars and cents. We are moved to repeat the old saying - “Justice is more precious than gold.”
February 25, 2016