Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Dear Mr. Sharma
Your comments are all noted and reflects your thoughtful discussion.I would advise you read the Auditor General Report and help me account for the billions missing or misappropriated. How do we account for only a few chosen ones getting all the contracts.?
How do we account for expensive houses by Ministers and Family when they only make less than $2000 US a month.? I will support your reflections on past leaders like Gandhi, the BIG difference is Integrity, Accountability and Transparency that made them great leaders.
We are sure lacking in that regard from our Government. Study closely the concessions given to QAI. Study why 2 Years of Drugs were bought from the NGPC when we all know no drugs have that long of a shelf life. Come with me to the Hospital and look at the inventory system, we did and could not find billions of drugs bought.
The Minister said “He got a good deal” so they purchased two years of drugs” I agree though that corporate greed is now as big as corrupt governments around the world as we see in Guyana. I experience daily the corruption.
I would support the President fully if he had accountability of our tax payers money. It was the ERP of the 1990s that changed the Economy from The Burnham era, but study the numbers today.
40% GDP = Remittances
40% Drug/Underground Money
20% Real GDP.
We will collapse our economy if any those numbers are affected. I really honestly do appreciate your comments and you taking time to discuss.Best Regards,Peter R.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The coast guard also contacted the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad, but it was unable to go out in the water because it “didn’t have sea-worthy vessel.”
Yes folks no sea-worthy vessel and how do we expect to stop smuggling and how do we ever expect to defend our Territory when we can't even react quick enough to save our citizens during a river mishap.
The Surinamese must be falling over with laughter. We better stop talking up about access to river before gunboats appear. God help us.
I am now more than ever convinced that what we need is a national commission to take control of Guyana’s relations with our neighbours, in so far as these relate to territorial and border issues.
I believe that Parliament should insist that when it comes to the defence of Guyana’s territorial integrity it is better that this be undertaken by a national commission comprising persons from all political parties and supported by a team of high-level technocrats.
To leave the continued management of Guyana’s territorial integrity to the Foreign Ministry alone is to court disaster.
I am shocked and horrified by some of the statements that have been emanating from official sources. I know that not all feet are fully wet within the Foreign Service but this is no excuse for not being more circumspect about what one says concerning Guyana’s relations with our neighbours. I also cannot accept the contradictions.
For years Guyana has not protested Suriname’s exercise of sovereignty over the Corentyne River. Suriname registers fishing vessels using that river; our fishermen have been jailed and fined for using that river;
Guyana itself has applied for permission to operate a boat service on that river and yet we are now being told that there is no agreement recognizing Suriname’s sovereignty over that river. So why was Suriname allowed to exercise exclusive sovereignty over the river?
And what sort of nonsense are we being told that the Governors’ Agreement excluded the river. Is this the level of understanding of our country’s history that exists within our Foreign Service? Is this the state our Foreign Service has come to?
If I own some land, and on this land there is a river, and I decide to give you all the land east of the river, how can you argue that the river does not form part of the agreement?
Is this how Guyana’s case for user rights or shared sovereignty over the Corentyne River is going to be argued?
Source documents are available to settle misunderstandings and arguments. It is always advisable that these source documents be read before their interpretations, since the original documents often contain the essence of the agreements reached.
I would urge those who are inexperienced or unknowledgeable about Guyana’s Foreign Policy to go back to source documents and read those documents and to verify whether the issue of the river was excluded from the agreement as is now so ingeniously being suggested.
I also hope that the Articles of Capitulation which make the Governors’ Agreement conclusive (and not just a gentleman’s accord) are also read in their original form.
The Guyana Government is now asserting there is no agreement between the two sides concerning the Corentyne River and therefore there is a need to invoke the principles of international law, which guide the manner in which river boundaries are settled.
I am not at odds with this, except, as I have argued before, if the Government of Guyana is now saying there is no agreement on the issue of sovereignty over the Corentyne River, why has it allowed the Suriname Government to exercise sovereignty over that river for all these years?
Is the Government of Guyana implying that it has been neglectful in defending Guyana’s rights to that river? I am also being accused of impugning the sanctity of international agreements.
Where have I ever done this? The President of Guyana is the one who jumped up and said that Guyana should have user rights or shared sovereignty over the river.
I simply said that if he feels that he has a case for such rights, he should agree for the matter to be put in front of an international commission for determination. Do you believe he is going to do this?
I challenge him, if he is so firm in his conviction that there is no agreement on the exercise of sovereignty over the Corentyne River, to take the matter to an international commission for a final and definitive ruling. Is he prepared to go along this route and to accept the findings of any such Commission?
If as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is saying there is no agreement on the Corentyne River, then what is there to lose?
How could taking it to an international commission impugn the sanctity of international agreements? It is the government that is saying there is no agreement and therefore there is nothing to impugn.
The President of Guyana showed guts when he went to the Arbitral Tribunal on the Law of the Sea Convention. That settled once and for all the issue of Guyana’s maritime boundaries.
There remain two contentious issues: the matter of the Corentyne River and the New River Triangle.
I wish to assure those who have criticized the position that I have taken in the sugar boat matter that I have no doubts about Guyana’s sovereignty over the New River area.
It belongs to Guyana. But my position as regards the river boundary is that this boundary is the high water mark on the left bank.
But since the President and his government obviously believe otherwise, then at least Guyana should propose that the matter be conclusively settled by an international commission.
At least, let Guyana propose the solution. Since it feels there is no agreement, then what is there to lose by seeking an international ruling?
If Suriname says that it does not wish to go that route, at least we can say that we tried to bring about a resolution. So what say you, Jagdeo? Want to go down that route in respect? I doubt whether.
Your acid writing directing at the Government and the President is a reflection of grudge and ignorance. So steeped are they that they blind your vision to the fact that it is President Jagdeo who through ingenuity pulled Guyana out of economic rot and brought hope and light to the people. Unless you can differentiate the tree from wood you will continue to share your state of consciousness. This state of consciousness is the substance you used to build you world of reality or perceive your truth.
You talked about, “We have a President that never managed an entity in the private sector and most ministers that are in portfolios never had any experience. You can judge which ones fit those criteria”. I am oblige to ask you, are noble state men like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajeev Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Mandela, Fidel Castro and Clinton fill you criteria for the position they held? Since they were never involved in private sector business, according to your standard of evaluation they were misfit. To declare so is to be subjective. Regarding President Jagdeo if he is incompetent as implied in your writing then Sir S. Ramphal is a fool not to recognize that; instead he congratulated him for his recent stance against EPA. See below his message. Only a brilliant mind can recognize its kind.
Obviously you don’t have to have business experience to be a President and Ministers of a Government. And don’t ever dodge the truth that it is Business Executives that are responsible for the mess the world is faced with now. Their greed and poor management brought millions to poverty and no one can speculate where the economic debacle would end.
Theories are mere theories, that is to say, mental conception which are only representation or images of reality; they are not the reality at all. When you say something, you utter only words. Therefore it would be good to allow yourself to gather some experience and then write objectively. Subjective writing makes distasteful reading.
I think your MBA intellect is mismanaged.
Sir Shridath Ramphal sends Congratulatory Message to President Bharrat Jagdeo (For having had the courage to stand up to the EU on a matter of principle and won out in the end) Congratulations! Your wise and courageous efforts over the EPA have been vindicated. The amendment of the EPA has come out well for the Caribbean and could have been even better had the rest of CARICOM shown some mettle. History will record, and the ACP will remember, that Guyana made a brave and noble stand when the Caribbean collapsed before a European negotiating offensive.You have prevented October 15 being remembered as a ‘day of shame’ in the Region. I am glad that your media statement today serves notice of the struggles ahead; struggles in which I do not believe you will be as lonely as you have been so far.The silent majority in the Caribbean, who have been with you throughout, will become more assertive; and Europe will discover that this was not the ‘victory’ they believed it was. Well before the first ‘mandatory’ review, a new EPA will emerge in a new time. You will have helped to shape the new ‘partnership’, and the new time is surely already at hand.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
With the world plunged into a financial and economic crisis, the international media continues to be engrossed with the 'bale out' efforts in the United States and Europe in the attempts to alleviate the escalating problem. Aside of government circles in the pre-eminent capitalist economies, economists, financial experts, political and social scientists at the regional and international levels have also been examining this global situation and making parallel proposals to stem the economic slide.
Leaders of the South (the developing countries) have commented on the efforts to 'rescue' the global economy but are not too impressed by actions taken in the United States. Criticising the US$750 billion 'bail out' package for the American bankers, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet felt that such a hefty sum could easily solve the problem of hunger across the world.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva bluntly accused wealthy nations of being responsible for the global financial crisis, saying their irresponsibility could destroy fiscal progress made in the developing world. He said growing economies that "have done everything to have good fiscal policy ... can't be turned into victims of the casino erected by the American economy.'
He added: "It's not fair for Latin American, African and Asian countries to pay for the irresponsibility of sectors of the American financial system."For his part, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pointed to the irony of the 'capitalist' American government's intervention in the economy by nationalising financial institutions, while his government a few months ago was sharply criticised by the US administration for taking control of the Spanish-owned Banco de Venezuela as well as the foreign-owned steel and telecommunications companies.
With respect to the impact on the smaller economies, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo noted that developing countries are worried that since major international banks have frozen credit, foreign investors would face difficulties in accessing loans from these institutions to pursue their investment plans.
On the other hand, he explained that his country's banking system was isolated from the impact because it was not investing heavily in the world markets reeling from the financial freefall.The international media, unfortunately, have paid scant attention to the effects of this current crisis on the developing countries.
Thus, little heed was given to 'The International Conference on Political Economy: Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis', held in Caracas on October 8-11 when researchers from across the world examined the turbulence in the global economy from the perspective of the South.This forum agreed that the economic and financial crisis has worsened and accelerated enormously and its future development, in addition to being difficult to predict, can take dramatic turns day by day.
For Latin American and Caribbean countries, there are now clear indications they would feel the impact of the economic fallout. They certainly will be confronted with an expected deterioration of international commerce as well as serious financial turbulence in the short term.The Caracas forum called on the regional governments (especially those of South America) to institute measures for the well-being and the rights of their peoples and not to come to the aid of the banks responsible for the crisis -- a position diametrically opposite to what is currently happening in the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea.
In a major proposal which could be viewed as pro-socialist, the participants urged governments in the region to immediately take custody of the banking systems by way of control, intervention, or nationalisation without indemnity.
Such action would prevent capital flight, a run on the currency, the transfer of bank assets to foreign banks, and the freezing of credit by banks that do not lend the funds they receive.At the same time, the forum suggested the closing of offshore branches of the banking system in each country because they 'constitute a dangerous shield against fiscal regulation in these circumstances.'
There was also a call for the ratification of currency exchange controls with the purpose of protecting the reserves and preventing capital flight.
With regard to state intervention in the banking system, the participants recommended that the state should recuperate the cost of the bailout with the assets of the banks, and should have the right to regulate the assets of the stockholders and the administrators.
Ever since the economic turmoil in the United States began to bubble more than a year ago, some South American economists have been pointing to the absence of coordinated monetary policies which could lead to "competitive devaluation" and worsen the crisis in regional economies. This point was echoed at the forum which stated that this situation could impede a coordinated regional response and threaten integration initiatives such as those promoted by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Last year when the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) was formally established, its members (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela) anticipated that for its development, there must be increased communication among central banks of member countries.
The Caracas forum gave its support to this idea, and emphasised that by doing so the Bank would establish more efficient management of its members' international reserves. In this regard, it also supported an existing South American proposal for a Fondo Común del Sur (Common Fund of the South) as an alternative to the IMF, with contingency funds available for fiscal emergencies.
And considering the suspension of credit lines imposed by that the global financial crisis, many countries in the region are now considering the temporary suspension of payments of the public debt. In the short term, such action is expected protect domestic resources threatened by the crisis and prevent the depletion of the nations' financial reserves.
But Latin American and Caribbean nations (especially those of South America) are extremely concerned over the negative impact the crisis would place on social development and the on-going fight against poverty. In this respect, a proposal has been made for a Regional Fund for Social Emergencies, managed by the Bank of the South, to ensure the availability of food and energy. This Fund, if implemented, can also address the severe problem of migration and the expected cutbacks in remittances to the region from the developed countries.
Significantly, the experts at the Caracas forum, while sharply objecting to aiding bankers responsible for the crisis, urged the establishment of anti-inflationary mechanisms and greater assistance to the general population through social spending.
They identified the priorities as job security, universal income, housing, public health and education.Currently, there exists also serious concern over the escalating prices of food products -- a grave setback in the fight against poverty and hunger in the developing world.
At the PetroCaribe summit in July 2008, Latin America and Caribbean leaders blamed the price escalation on speculators (international market profiteers) for buying out supplies in the international oil and commodities 'futures' markets.
This process also involved massive financial transfers globally, thus having debilitating impacts on currencies, with developing economies ultimately feeling the squeeze.To deal with aspects of this problem, many political and economic analysts in the South feel that consideration should be given to the imposition of a UN-administered 'Tobin tax' of half of one percent on large scale international financial transfers which could easily raise more than US$2,500 billion annually which could be dispensed to help ailing economies in the developing world.
Even if a watered-down version of one-tenth of a percent is applied, roughly US$500 billion can be accrued for this enterprise. This tax was suggested in the 1980s by the American Nobel Prize Keynesian economist James Tobin (1918-2002) and, more recently, his idea has generated discussions in political and academic circles in the South.With the economic slide generating speed across the globe, this could be one factor which can help apply the brakes while at the same time generating worthwhile assistance to the developing world in the face of the global economic tsunami.
Dr. Odeen Ishmaelembguy@cantv.net(The writer is Guyana's ambassador to Venezuela. The views expressed are solely those of the writer.)
Police say seven people likely drowned when a speed boat capsized in a river along the Guyana-Suriname border, the Associated Press reported.
Deputy Commander Simon McBean says the boat was crossing the Corentyne River when the accident occurred. He says one man survived and is in hospital.
McBean said police found the bodies of three women on Saturday and are still searching for three people.
Passengers often rely on speedboats to make the 20-minute trip across the river instead of using the slower-moving ferry. Authorities in both South American countries have demanded that boat operators carry lifejackets and emergency signaling equipment. It is unclear if the boat had any safety features.
The accident occurred late Friday
After spending millions of dollars as part of infrastructural works, the area will now be used as a ‘green pristine jungle’ or ‘green zone,’ Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said yesterday.
When asked about the status of works at the park yesterday, Dr. Luncheon said that Guyanese should not expect to see any ‘high rise building or anything else’ in that area, as it has now been declared a ‘green zone.’
Guyana360: Did you hear this guy...He certainly has a career in standup comedy....no sitdown commedy because his feet are getting weaker by the day. This is absolutely funny. Drop on the floor, roll around on the ground and say heee haaaaa like a certain beast on a dusty country street because that's what you taxpayers are or so he thinks.
This story reminds us of a thief who was caught in a house a few years back. When the owner asked what was he doing in the house, the crook replied that he saw smoke in the house and being the good guy he was, stopped to helped. Of course, this seemingly good Samaritan thought the occupant was a fool.
Another PPP election/Cricket World Cup promise has desiccated from the well of juicy promises and the excuse by Dr. Luncheon is that the area earmarked for development is now a green zone. Eh eh em...weed zone. After spending $45M on the project, everything just halted and the designs and plans were overpowered by persitent weeds and lack of committment.
When was this so-called green zone decided? Is the City Council aware that the area where they routinely dump tons of waste dirt is actually a green zone? Is this area protected under some form of legislation? It's ok to laugh with us.
Going green is suppose to represent a clean slate, but the administration is dragging its old dirty laundry of corruption along.
This is certainly laughable and we would just like to make it public that we have 4 acres of weeds and shrubs on the East Bank, should we announce that we are going green too?
Ahahahahah. This one will go down as one of Dr. Luncheon's infamous moments.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Reports suggest that veterian journalist, Mirand LaRose has resigned today from Stabroek News over a fallout with management. Guyana360 understands that both parties are trying to resolve the issue in the best interest of the company. More details forthcoming.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
THE Regional Administration in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) is busy with preparations, especially in the town of Anna Regina, for the tenth Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA X).
A release said work is in progress on the Anna Regina Community Centre ground where a grand super concert will be staged on August 23.
According to Vice-Chairman, Mr. Vishnu Samaroo, a massive platform is under construction and an Amerindian village will be created for the indigenous folks from the nine communities across the region to display their craft, foods, local drink and art pieces.
The release said the Administration is also to establish an art gallery, at Anna Regina Town Hall where several pieces, done many years ago, will be displayed, together with others crafted by schoolchildren.
A brochure on the region, that is being produced by the Information Department, will be distributed free of charge to all visitors during CARIFESTA X activities.
With the aim of making the region glitter for the occasion, the Administration is encouraging residents to clean up their yards and repaint fences to make visitors feel welcome to the ‘Cinderella County’, the release said.
The Asian giant which becomes the 48th member country in the Washington, DC-based IDB, the single largest source of long-term lending for the region, has agreed to contribute US$350M to the IDB Group to bolster key programmes at a time when the world economy is under duress.
Middlesex takes on Trinidad
Middlesex captain Shaun Udal believes that his team's US$400,000 clash with Stanford 20/20 Champions Trinidad and Tobago will be a battle of the spinners. And Udal believes that Middlesex has the advantage in that department.
"We've been watching DVDs of them (Trinidad and Tobago) playing, we've got an idea of how they approach 20/20 cricket, spin plays quite heavily in their set up and it does in ours, hopefully it will be a battle of the spinners," Udal told the Antiguan media upon the team's arrival in the Caribbean on Sunday afternoon.
The off spinning skipper said he was happy with his team's spin duo of himself and Indian left arm spinner Murali Kartik while Trinidad has lost their most dominant spinner in Dave Mohammed who is with the Stanford Superstars.
"Murali Kartik is a world class performer, he's done it for India against the best in the world, I bowl off spin as well, so we have two experienced guys who have been around the block and know how to react under pressure so if the wickets do spin then we are more than happy with the spin partnership that we've got," asserted the thirty nine year old who appeared in four Tests and eleven One Day Internationals for England.
Miserly 27 year old leg spinner Samuel Badree will lead the Trinidad and Tobago spin attack and he will have off spinner Sherwin Ganga, the younger brother of captain Daren Ganga, as support along with another off spinner, Amit Jaggernauth.
The inexperienced 20/20 player, 24 year old Jaggernauth, made his Test debut against Australia earlier this year and comes in the Trinidad squad for Mohammed who dominated the wicket taking chart in the Stanford 20/20 Tournament this year.
Despite his team, the reigning English Twenty20 champions, being vastly more experienced than the Trinidadians in this form of the game, Udal believes the pressure is on the home side to perform in their backyard.
"The pressure is not on us, Trinidad and Tobago are the holders of the (Stanford) 20/20 Championship, they played at this ground before, the pressure is on them and it's nice for us to come out here as underdogs," Udal reasoned.
"The key is having the experience to cope with the pressure and we've got bags of experience within our side," Udal assured.
He believes that his team has a balanced combination but fingered big hitting South African all rounder Tyrone Henderson as a critical part of their unit.
"He's a vital part of our set up, he's a hard hitter and changes the course of a game, on his day he is a proven match winner. With the ball he has gotten more wickets in domestic Twenty20 than anybody who's ever played the game," Udal said.
And despite losing the services of key batsman Owais Shah to the English national side Udal is confident his batting line up will get the job done.
"We've lost Shah but we've gained Andrew Strauss. We've lost one world class batsman and replaced him with another and we've signed Neil Dexter from Kent who is an outstandingly exciting young batsman so we've got lots of options with the bat, Ed Joyce will bat higher up in the order so there's lots of experience," Udal said.
Middlesex's first match is against England on Sunday October 26th while they take on Trinidad and Tobago the following day and go up against the Stanford Superstars on Thursday October 30th.
In addition to appearance fees, Middlesex and Trinidad and Tobago will clash for a winner takes all cheque of US$180,000 along with a Man of the Match prize of US$10,000.
Middlesex squad: Shaun Udal (captain), Neil Carter, Neil Dexter, Steven Finn, Billy Godleman, Tyrone Henderson, Ed Joyce, Murali Kartik, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Tim Murtagh, David Nash, Alan Richardson, Ben Scott, Andrew Strauss
For more information about the Stanford 20/20 Tournament email info@Stanford2020.com or log on to www.Stanford2020.com.
Nowhere in the corporate world will you ever find a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) being hired without any experience in managing people and more importantly how to manage profitability of a company. I believe the mismanagement we have seen in the way our country has been directed over the last decade is a result of inexperience at the highest levels of Government.We have a President that never managed an entity in the private sector and most ministers that are in portfolios never had any experience.
You can judge which ones fit those criteria.This week we were once again humiliated by Suriname, demonstrating our lack of defence. We will have to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement that our President waited until a few weeks to realize that he did not agree, and again this week, after 16 years in government, realized that the Demerara Harbour Bridge was not meant to last to the 21st century.
COMPARISON OF MANAGING A PUBLIC COMPANY
One of the key focuses of any public for-profit company is revenue and shareholder value. All departments within the company are focused on the components that ensure a rising or stable stock price.
Metrics are developed, starting at the top and filtered down to every department. The sales funnel is constantly updated to look at the best few sales most likely to close and that will generate revenues, meet profit margin requirements and thus increase shareholder values. The company is well aware of the consequences from the board for not adhering to a plan but more importantly - from the shareholders.
Managing a company requires the development of a three to five-year plan that is constantly reviewed. Budget submissions from each department and the linkages to the company’s plan are reviewed and approved.
At every department meeting, the metrics are reviewed, updated and a determination is made as to whether the deliverables are being met within the budget. This cycle is recurring. External drivers can affect the plan, but adjustments are then made quarterly or at a mid-year review.
Each department head is constantly ensuring coordination with other areas within the company to be able to deliver a quality service or product to the clients or customers. Superior customer service is the desired outcome of this long and detailed process. If the company can produce happy customers, the chances of repeat business increase exponentially.
Successful companies are run on measurable indicators and sound management.MANAGING GUYANA – THE COUNTRYIn Guyana, the Government (President-CEO) typically presents a budget to Parliament (Board of Directors) for approval. Board Members contribute changes, but the CEO decides that no changes are allowed and thus leaves original budget as it is. In any other company, this practice is not allowed. Shareholders (population) look on in disgust.
The President then appoints his senior Vice Presidents to each of his departments (Ministries). They have all submitted some form of budget. At the executive meeting (Cabinet), there are no metrics on how each department will accomplish their goals or whether they had even developed any.
The broad budget submitted to parliament is now ignored at executive meetings.When it has become apparent that the customers are not at all happy with the services being rendered, the President then tells his senior officials they are incompetent and declares himself the sole owner of the money.He travels to his subsidiaries (communities) and doles out large amounts of cash for projects that were not part of his initial budget submission.
These expenditures bring the company margins to negative numbers. Shareholders now, not only have loss all stock, but have invested in a company that has gone bankrupt.The President went so far as to surprise his VP of Works during a visit to one of his projects (Demerara Harbour Bridge) by publicly chastising him, describing the neglect as being criminal.
Was there not an executive meeting (Cabinet) that would have gone over the projects, timeliness, metrics, budget etc.?The saga of the Management Team continues though. The VP of Tourism presents plan to increase visits, and thus create new revenues, but failed to implement any coordination with the Works Department to perhaps build a 5000-feet runway at Kaieteur Falls in order to attract regional carriers to fly direct.One of the Senior VPs of Agri has recently been faced with the loss of a major revenue generator (Sugar).
He works hard at retaining this vital source of income, but in the process he loses track on developing new sales to replace the revenues that will be lost. It would certainly seem as if his department could only do one task at a time.
Normally, this is a ticket to “You are Fired” . But with this “company”, no one gets fired, just moved to another position.
Continual, grinding poverty, corruption and a lack of jobs have all led to the current “failed state”, crime-ridden situation in which we now find ourselves. The “plunder” economy we witness daily is, however, the single major achievement of the last sixteen years. Shareholders may have given up on this company.
A campaign to re-engage shareholders must be waged. This is a company that must be saved.In this comparison, the management team of Guyana would no doubt receive poor customer ratings and could expect their company/country to go into bankruptcy. Which they do and which it has.
It is time to replace this management team with more competent players who have the capacity to get this country back on its feet and ready to provide the best customer service possible.The stock price is at its lowest, shareholders are dissatisfied. At the next major shareholder meeting in July 2011, it is the time we change management.
Until next time “Roop”.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website: www.visionguyana.com.
The minibus owner, Orin Alleyne of West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, Georgetown, was charged with permitting unlicensed driver and permitting breach of insurance.
The truck driver, Burchell Thompson of Amelia’s Ward, was charged with uninsured motor vehicle, uncertified motor vehicle and taking and driving motor vehicle without owner’s consent.
Orin Alleyne appeared today before Magistrate Ann McLennon at the Christianburg Magistrate Court where he pleaded ‘not guilty’ and was placed on $65,000.00 cash bail to return to court on November 04, 2008.
Burchell Thompson is to appear in court on October 29, 2008.
Guyana360: Call us fucking crazy, but isn't it GT&T's responsibility to esnure that the driver of a bus they contracted actually has a valid driver's license and that the minibus is properly insured. This hits smack of the lack of concern GT&T has for human life. What is their motto...publicity at all cost?
Prior, we didn't see why the telephone company should shoulder total responsibility for the accident, because they could not have prevented it. Accidents happen, but after the fcat, it is clear that GT&T has failed miserably to protect the lives of those media operatives, by ensuring that a licensed driver was avaible and that the contracted minbus was properly insured.
Tappin, we understand, was once contracted by the PNCR and was seen transporting a very publicity craved politician, who wrote a glowing tribute about Jacobs' and promised to open an account for her daughter.
To say the least, the injured is without insurance coverage because GT&T was callous in the first instant to contract an unlicensed driver and an uninsured minibus. The tears for Jacobs' must flood telephone house, the pain and anguish must shake a still vibrant ex-soulder. GT&T is responsible for the upbrining of Jacobs' daughter.
We know that Jacobs' family consist of quite a few legal minds, who we met recently. The family should give the telecommunications about a month to decide how they will treat with Jacobs' daughter before dragging them into court.
The injured should also do the same, but acting sooner.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It was only a few weeks prior to this latest bout of tragedy that we were in discussion with a very well-known and respected regional reporter, who had suggested that at some stage, the Guyana scenario could return to bite. We will hesitate to wave the white flag as we expect this tragedy to force some positive changes, especially if the press association possesses the fortitude to make the case for its members.
He explained that media owners are now resorting to high school graduates as seasoned reporters begin rebelling against the poor conditions and move to accept more lucrative offers in the Caribbean and in North America, even if in some cases, it means crossing professional lanes.
With younger and lesser experience media workers, quality has receded and so too has the basic access to certain accompanying rights and privileges that are expected to be entrenched in the profession. According to this regional journalist, this is no reason to be alarmed.
What this respected gentleman argued was some sort of caste system which mirrors the general social consensus of Guyana where workers’ rights have been eroding gradually and union representation tossed out the window and swept up like a flower seed in a swirling wave of wind.
He had argued that the profession is near toxic, favouring the courageous while the weak hearted are downtrodden under the feet of hatred fueled by lies and scandal.
Hence, from the very night we learnt of this tragic accident involving media operatives, we begun to reflect how dirty a profession the media has become and how much slippery the owners are.
Exploitation is rampant. Long hours, no overtime and in some ridiculous circumstances, there are no contracts for those in the shadows – the layout artists, camerapersons, and video and audio editors. All of this in the face of no pension plans and other retirement benefits.
There is absolutely nothing for a noble journalist to retire to. This constitutes economic rape by media owners, who would make the case that without legislative support such as a relevant copyright law and a broadcast bill, money was being chiseled out the coffers. This is absolutely no excuse as media owners continue to live lavish lifestyles.
Such a situation is a recipe for disaster and begs the pertinent question as to why cub reporters should continue to operate under such circumstances. We put forward the question to our bold regional professional and he quickly responded that Guyana is a Third World nation and sometimes, that thought gets lost in emotional anger when incidents occur.
Desperate economic situations in the country appeared to be dictating the steady flow of young persons to the profession, noting that the media was still viewed as a noble and trusted profession. In essence, this guy was actually saying that despite where on the economic bracket you emerged to join the media, you instantly gained publicity and respect. So too it must have be with one’s educational status.
It really didn’t matter if you finished your secondary education at Charlestown Secondary or Queen’s College, everyone in the media stand a chance of being invited to the Office of the President to be in the presence of Bharrat Jagdeo or some Government Minister.
It also meant that they rubbed shoulders with some of the most influential in society and most prolific modern day entertainers in the music industry.
For so many other young media practitioners’, journalism represent a way to get paid. Do or die in an economically crumbling nation. But the cost is enormous as so many are being vividly shown with the tragic passing of Akila Jacobs.
The media has already shown weakness in the face of threats when they meekly gave up on a protest for a colleague that was banned from covering assignments at the Office of the President.
We are still not prepared to subdue to our regional friend because we know that at this moment some soul searching is taking place. Who will be next, who will suffer because of failure to ensure that the right cushions exist.
He warned however, that this was no reason to sit idly and decide to accept such conditions.
Fate interceded and Ravena’s life was spared, but what of her future? And who will fund her expensive treatment and aftercare? Out of the $32,000 needed for her CT-scan, GT&T provided $8,000. (only freaking $8,000, but what has been G/Times' contribution?)
Realistically, GT&T may not be held culpable nor legally bound in any way, but morally this is a company that expends millions of dollars on promotions, and what would be a greater image-builder than to show the face of a company that treats the collective humanity with compassion?
Could this company adopt Akila’s beloved baby and nurture her so that she could realise her optimal potentials and bring to fruition the dreams a now dead young mother nurtured for her cherished child?
GT&T has always been well-treated by the media fraternity, but today the collective is angry at the insensitive treatment of their colleagues by the company’s PR team.
Terry Holder has always been an executive with a great heart, so it is advisable that the company delegates this Guyanese icon, whom incidentally was once also a member of the media world, to rescue this situation and defuse the tension currently building up as the media collective mourn the loss and injury of their colleagues.
And it is incumbent upon the Guyana Press Association to begin lobbying for protection by way of insurance coverage, or some other compensatory measures, to defray expenses of media practitioners who may become statistics of an inherently dangerous profession.
While one may argue that every job has its hazards, there should be some protection offered to journalists and their dependents so that they do not become subsumed in the equations delineating the profit configurations from humane considerations.
Glen Lall should be commended for the help he has afforded the families of the slain Kaieteur News pressmen, but ad hoc situations, while admirable, cannot be a solution to this dilemma, which need to be addressed holistically, and with promptitude.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Stabroek News reports on the corruption at the once vibrant school:
At a press conference held at GTU headquarters, King said there was no financial statement from the Board for the last seven years. Noting that the college spends $362,000 per child every year, King said where self sufficiency should prevail, the opposite occurs.
The GTU president also alleged that funds are controlled by the college’s head teacher, which he said is not supposed to happen. He also claimed that Simpson Da Silva was illegally removed from chairing the college’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) because he did not stand for the corruption at the school.
A German national, Hans Metzer, replaced Da Silva as PTA chairman and King claimed the board colluded with the Education Ministry to remove Da Silva after he had pioneered a poultry project and an IT project, both funded by the EU.
King said: “They can’t get their hands in the coffers to steal the money [with Da Silva there] and so they fired him.”
Raheem Lewis, 20, of Victoria Road, Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, was shot in the chest and succumbed minutes after arriving at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.He was identified by his mother and grandmother.
Another man, identified as Michael Reid, 23, of Bamboo Drive, Meadowbrook, was placed under police guard after he turned up at the hospital with a gunshot wound in the upper left thigh.Police said that the victims of the attack identified him as one of the gunmen who had invaded the Meadowbrook premises.
One of the victims, Roy Codrington, who was gun-butted during the robbery, was also treated at the GPHC.The other two bandits escaped with about $6,000 and a cell phone.
When he appeared at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, the 54-year-old magistrate pleaded not guilty to the charges of careless driving, being an unlicensed driver, failure to produce a driver’s licence, having an uninsured motor vehicle, having an uncertified motor vehicle and having an unlicensed motor vehicle, when they were read to him by Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson.
Guyana’s ambassador to Brussels Dr Patrick Gomes signed the pact and in a statement the EU Trade Commission welcomed the decision, which it said would allow the signatories to begin implementing the EPA by the end of the month.
Guyana agreed to sign the EPA after other Cariforum member states and the European Union accepted a declaration which President Bharrat Jagdeo had recommended as a pre-condition to signing. He asked that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas takes precedence over the EPA in any matters of conflict in implementation and in matters of regional integration, and he also sought for the EPA to be reviewed every five years.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Company expresses sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and wishes those who sustained injury speedy recovery and a return to good health.The tragic accident occurred on the Amelia's Ward section of the Linden Soesdyke Highway as invitees were returning to Georgetown after the formal commissioning of the new GT&T cell site at Ituni.
The new site had already been powered up and, as it has done at other locations, the Company had organized a ceremony to formally launch the facility.
GT&T has traditionally treated such occasions as media events, and accordingly, the local media houses were informed of the function and invited to send representatives to cover the proceedings.
A number of media houses appreciated the importance of the event and assigned journalist to provide coverage.The Company organized transportation to Ituni by road for the journalists and GT&T staff from the city and back. Of the five vehicles making the trip two were allocated for use by media personnel.
The drivers of all of the vehicles were reminded of the need for caution when traveling on the East Bank and Linden/Soesdyke Highways.Everything seemed to be proceeding according to plan.
The journalists arrived at the GSM site and in the time available before the ceremony, they traveled into the community to talk with the residents to learn more about life there and generally to widen their horizons.
It was after the function had been completed and on the return trip to the city that tragedy struck.
No information is yet available to the Company on how the accident occurred, but it proved to be the final assignment for Miss Jacobs, a journalist of the National Communication Network and Mr. Terrence Tappin, the driver of the vehicle which is contracted to the Company.
The other passengers in the vehicle sustained injuries and were taken to the Linden Hospital. Injured were June Ann Amsterdam and Mohamed Nazim of NCN, Ravina Gildharie of Guyana Times, Serena Knights, Supervisor Linden, GT&T's Business Office, and Kenneth Whyte, Security Officer, GT&T who was traveling with the team to ensure their safety.
GT&T executives at the site and staff from the area accompanied the injured to the Linden Hospital. They were supported by the journalist who had turned around the other vehicle in which they were traveling in a gesture of solidarity to be with their colleagues in their distress.
The Company's CEO, Major General (ret'd) Joe Singh and Consultant Sonita Jagan were at the Public Hospital in Georgetown to check on the status of the more injured who were rushed from Linden to the Georgetown Hospital.GT&T continues to keep those who have passed away and those who remain hospitalized in their prayers.
Statement by H.E. Edwin Carrington
Fatal Accident involving Media in Guyana
I note with great distress the untimely death of our young media practitioner and the varying degrees of injury suffered by others, while on assignment, as a result of the horrific accident on the Linden highway last Saturday evening.
Throughout the Caribbean Community and beyond, my officers and I work closely with the media on public information, education and development. Given that Guyana is the Headquarters of the Community; the home of the CARICOM Secretariat, my own interaction with the media in Guyana is considerable and regular. As a result this tragedy is extremely and personally painful.
On behalf of the Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat, I offer words of comfort and expressions of sympathy to the families and relatives of the deceased, and affirmations for a speedy recovery of the injured.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The Guyana Press Association is not in the habbit of recognising media workers for their contributions, so GT&T can take a fresh step and approach in this area.
Perhaps the award can go to a journalist that has influenced the local landscape and force some developmental changes.
The creteria can be worked out and a board be appointed to examine the work of local journalista to determine who gets the award.
GT&T can also consider a scholarship award for an aspiring journalist leaving high school and who would be pursuing studies in Public Communications at the University of Guyana. This we belive, would be a fitting honour since Jacobs went from high school straight into journalism and never stopped to take time out to further her studies. The award would re-enforce the point that tertiary education is important for the advancement of journalism in Guyana.
Any of the above reccomendations would be an addition to whatever monetary donation GT&T is giving her family. We at this point in time will not go into specifics as to how much that contribution should be or what form it should take, but GT&T must take into account that Jacobs has left behind a daughter, who will have to grow up without a mother - left to the cruel fate of this world.
Not only GT&T is responsible in the aftermath of this accident, but the media employers. NCN and Guyana Times. They too must pitchin.
And yes, this is a time when the GPA should make the case for media managers to provide insurance and other benifits for media employees. We are aware that at some media houses, there is no such contractual obligations. Infact, we understand that at some media houses, there are no contracts for employment. This should be every
October 19, 2008.
The media fraternity across Guyana is deeply saddened at the tragicdeath of Ms. Akila Jacobs, one of Guyana's young and ambitious newsreporters. The Guyana Press Association (GPA) also takes this opportunity to prayfor the speedy and full recovery of the other members of the media whosustained injuries in Saturday evening's accident at Amelia's Ward,Linden.
Our prayers are with all of you in this time of bereavement andreflection among survivors and their loved ones.The death of Ms. Jacobs, a talented and dedicated media practitioner,came at a time when several media houses are confronting the dauntingchallenge of sustaining high standards, partly due to a high staffattrition rate.
The fact that Akila entered the media almost immediately aftercompleting secondary education and stayed the course remains a shiningtestimony of her love for the profession that she selected.Our deepest condolences are extended to the Ms. Jacobs' family,relatives and friends and to our colleagues at the NationalCommunications Network (NCN).
Ms. Jacobs' warm and polite personalityundoubtedly aided her accomplishment of journalistic tasks in adedicated manner-- a legacy that she has left behind for hercolleagues to emulate.Believed to be the first such accident involving media workers, thisis a wake-up call for all Guyanese to use the roads wisely.
Let Saturday evening's accident serve as a wake-up call for mediapractitioners to place greater emphasis on public education andawareness on road safety, for road accidents remain a leading cause ofdeath worldwide. Our only reward, as media practitioners, must besafer roads.
The minibus that claimed the life of NCN reporter, Akila Jacobs last evening.
Tappin, 60, of Lot 71 West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, died on the spot after he was pinned in the wreck of his bus.Jacobs, 23, the mother of a two-year-old son, succumbed from severe head injuries even as she was being rushed to the city by ambulance.She was sitting in the front seat when the crash occurred.
Also injured are Serena Knights, a supervisor at GT&T’s Linden branch, NCN camera operator June Ann Amsterdam; NCN radio announcer Morano Isaacs; NCN cameraman Mohamed Nazim, and Guyana Times reporter Ravina Gildharie.
Gildharie, who sustained head, neck and back injuries, was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital last night.The other injured passengers were at first admitted to the Mackenzie Hospital, but were later transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The occupants of the minibus had travelled earlier in the day to Ituni, where GT&T had installed a new cell site. According to reports, the minibus, BJJ 305, was in the vicinity of Well Road, Amelia’s Ward, when the driver, Terrence Tappin, lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of a moving truck, GJJ 7382, driven by Burchell Thompson.
Reports are that Tappin was travelling at a fast rate of speed so he was out of space when the truck driver suddenly slowed down while turning into Well Road.
A media operative alleged that Tappin was speeding on the way up to Ituni.“He was speeding on his way up. A police patrol came onto the highway to stop him, but he did not see them because he was travelling so fast,” the reporter said.
Kaieteur News reporter Nadia Guyadeen, who had also travelled to Ituni, said that all the media personnel had travelled in the ill-fated bus to Ituni.
However, she and some of the other journalists opted to travel in another bus on their way back to Georgetown.A man claiming to be an eyewitness told Kaieteur News that only one of the rear lights for the truck was working, and that Tappin had at first mistaken the vehicle for a motorcycle.
“I see this vehicle turning into Well Road, and I thought that it was a motorcycle, because it only had one rear light,” the eyewitness said.
“I guess that the (bus) driver thought the same thing, and he slammed into the truck,” the man added.The eyewitness said that he helped free the injured occupants, who were first transported to the Mackenzie Hospital.
Media personnel who rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital to report on the disaster and to get a glimpse of their injured colleagues broke down in tears when they saw the porters remove their dead colleague from the ambulance.
More reporters, some who were off duty, raced to the hospital as the news spread that Jacobs had died.
Gaildharie’s feet were strapped to the stretcher so as to avoid further injuries, as her hands clung to the saline bottle that lay on her abdomen.
She was listed among the critically injured, having sustained injuries to the hip and lower extremities.
About an hour later, the other injured reporters were transported to the hospital, all in obvious pain.
Tappin’s reputed wife, Desiree Sobers, said that her husband left home at around 06:30 hrs yesterday to travel to Ituni.Another relative said that they received the news at around 07:00 hrs from a GT&T supervisor.
The tragedy occurred a mere 500 metres from the scene of one of the worst accidents in Linden, which claimed the lives of ten people just over a year ago.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Unconfirmed sources said that the accident occured at Amelia's Ward, Linden. Details are very sketchy at this time. But as we prepare to post, we understand that several media managers and editors are at the Georgetown Public Hospital awaiting the arrival of the injured.
We also understand that those injured include, Akila Jacobs of NCN TV, whom we understand is very critical; Morano Isaacs, NCN Radio; Ravina Gildarie, Guyana Times; and June Ann Amsterdam...we cannot at this point in time confirm which media house she is from
Another bus carrying another group of media operatives was not involved in the accident.
Details to come soon....
8:45 pm update:
Additional information now suggests that Akila Jacobs (pic below) has sadly passed away. She died while being transported to the hospital. Jacobs has been in the media for over 3 years having started out on Work Study at GTV as it was then. At the time she was a student of the Brickdam Secondary School. She later left NCN to join Kaieteur News before leaving to join News-2 and later the Evening News. She lately rejoined the state media. Our hearts go out to her family and the media fraternity during this tragic time. We are still trying to confirm what transpired on the Linden road.
9:00 pm update:
We have been able to confirm that the driver of the bus, known only as Tappin at this point, slammed into a truck along the Linden highway shortly before 7:00 p.m. Sad to say that this is one of the many trucks that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said will not be allowed onto the highway at nights. He made the statement following another horrific accident a few yards from where tonight's accident occured.
We are also hearing that Ghilarie (pic below) who was said to be critical is now listed as stable but critical with major hip and bone injuries. She was formely employed at GINA before leaving for Guyana Times.
We have been able to confirm that June Ann Amsterdam is a camera woman atatched to NCN. Infact, she is one of a kind in her profession. She has been admitted to hospital in a stable condition.
Isaacs, whose voice is well known across radioland, suffered minor injuries. Another person said to be an operator travelling with Isaacs is said to have suffered minor injuries also. There were a total of five persons in the bus.
Additionally, we are now hearing that Akila Jacobs mothered a daughter and at last Mother's Day, she recieved a gift from Pastor Wade Ridley for being the youngest mother in the congregation at the Restoration and Life Ministry in Wren Ave., South Ruimveldt Gardens.
Ravina Ghildari....listed as critical but stable.
10:00 pm update
More information pouring in suggests that the other bus with media workers was way ahead of the crashed party. Sources said that the lead bus had already reached Supply along the East Bank when they got the news and returned to the scene of the accident.
"As such we wish to withdraw the above statement and sincerely apologise to Mr. Prashad for the inconvenience caused," the Chronicle stated.
When we first saw the article we were amazed to say the least that a Minister would seek to promote one pageant over another. Minister Prashad quickly realised the outcry this could have caused and asked that the state paper correct it self. The holding of the pageant has already foamed over the nation as many belive that the pageant downplays the true meaning of the religious holiday.
But, then again, the Ministry of Tourism has been a proud supporter of one of the most outrageous and degrading pageants in Guyana. Yearly, the Tourism Ministry pumps millions into the Hits and Jams Pageant at Splashmin's. Our sources tell us that the Hips and Bambsee people were getting funding under Minister Nadear because Donna Fishgill was very close to the organisors, hence she ensured that they got funding.
Guyana was standing ‘out in the cold’ during the fight for better arrangements under the EPA but now the entire Region stands to benefit from what Guyana achieved without solidarity.
The Caribbean will benefit from a mandatory review of the EPA every five years to measure the impact of the agreement and make adjustments if necessary for the better of CARICOM.
Secondly, there will be some degree of protection for the Region as it strives for the Single Market and Economy (CSME) since some of the policies under the EPA are alien to CARICOM.
President Jagdeo took a firm stance in the best interest of Guyana and continuously warned the other Caribbean countries against signing but to no avail. He was not supported by his fellow Caribbean Leaders. From day one the President recognized that the EPA in its initial form would have done harm to the Region.
Our President continuously proves to be a very strong and capable leader in the region. He has made another great achievement in spite of standing alone. Congrats to our President.
SARAH WILLIAMS, one of many ghost writers employed at GINA.
They each tell a different logic about how politicians try as much as possible to get water from the driest of rocks. I will attempt to show that both Mc Cain and Bharrat Jagdeo had the same motive in mind when they made their respective pronouncements.
Freddie Kissoon continues...
The government played up the Interception of Communications Bill 2008 as a major initiative to enhance intelligence gathering by the security forces, while members of the main opposition PNCR-1G and the AFC withheld support because of serious reservations about its constitutionality, its potential for abuse by the state and the absence of accompanying provisions for oversight.
A major concern was also the lack of wide consultation on the legislation, in light of its reach. Although similar concerns were raised about the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2008, intended to aid the tracking and identifying of persons in possession of the cellular phone devices, it was also passed during yesterday’s sitting with the guarded support of the PNCR-1G.
The AFC did not support either bill, saying that they represented an erosion of civil rights, similar to situations in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Uganda and even the US where such laws have been heavily criticised.
Members from the two sides of the house butted heads for a little more than five hours and after a shouting match led to a brief suspension of the proceedings PNCR-1G MPs walked out of the parliamentary chamber shortly before the wiretapping bill was passed. It received its final reading around 10.35 pm, after an anti-climactic few minutes were spent sorting out amendments that were approved.
The laws were formulated in response to the widespread use of mobile phones in the planning and commission of major crimes.
The wiretapping law will effectively prohibit the interception of communication unless a warrant is issued by a judge based on an application. Intercepted communication obtained on a warrant will also be made admissible in any criminal proceedings.
Government members argued the absence of the law was one of the reasons why it was difficult to do anything about the illegal tapping of former Police Commissioner Winston Felix’s phone, which created a scandal when his private calls were released to the public - a situation that was cited by several opposition speakers who bemoaned the fact Felix ended up facing the brunt of the resulting persecution.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
According to reports, it was shortly after 19:00 hours when Magistrate Gilhuys’s vehicle PLL 4282 collided with minibus BDD 2579, which Mr Gilhuys said stopped suddenly.Yesterday, Mr Gilhuys said that the accident was nothing and both he and the minibus driver decided that there would be no need for any legal action.
However, both he and the minibus driver reported the accident and they waited at the scene for a long time but no traffic rank arrived, forcing them to move away.
Mr Gilhuys said that the next day he travelled to his mechanic on East Bank Demerara and on his return to the city, saw the minibus driver at the Ruimveldt Police Station.
He said that he too stopped and they both made another report of the accident.
On Saturday, the police served Mr Gilhuys with notice of prosecution stemming from the accident and indicating that he would face six charges: being an unlicensed driver, failing to produce a driver’s licence, driving an uninsured vehicle, driving an uncertified vehicle, careless driving, and driving an unlicensed vehicle.The matter is due to come up in court later this week.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Listen to Dougie Brew, a trade policy advisor at the European Commission in Brussels as he explains that Guyana had indiacted that it wll sign the agreement before turning full circle to oppose it.
This was aired yesterday.
"Well if Guyana changes its position now, that's something that we regret, but we will deal with it when the time comes. Again we are talking to Guyana and indications are that they will sign," Brew told the BBC.
BETRAYING A NATION....BHARRAT JAGDEO has been less than TRUTHFUL about the EPA deal.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Months after, the US economy showed signs of slowing, and weeks after the global economic situation went further south, Bharrat Jagdeo was no where to be seen, heard or even concerened about the impact on Guyana.
That is out of touch. We can't always blame Jagdeo for everything that Government screws up, but this time, the situation required attention at the highest level.
It was only after this article appeared in the Kaieteur News that everyday Guyanese were able to frame the economic situation. Even this article was an eye opener.
Out of touch with Guyanese and far removed from the realities that confront this nation. Hence, his weak position on Venezuela. Out of touch with the economic realties maybe because he does not have to rely on the small piece sent from the US. Most families survive on remittances because our economy is in the trenches and cannot generate the amount of welcome to lift the poor out of poverty.
It took too long for our President to address this ongoing global crisis, and when he did, he came to tell us that our banks are insualted. Out of touch again. Guyana's banks, like most in the world, invest and they do so in overseas companies, many of them in the US. No chick or child and too elite to understand the ordinary suffering of the Guyanese people.
We beg anyone to prove us wrong that none of our banks had invested in US financial firms.
In the face of the lies and cover-ups by Jagdeo, the Private sector owes it to this nation to come out and explain properly the effects of this global financial meltdown. We beg, we plead with the private sector to arrange an economic forum to discuss the financial fallout for Guyana.
Yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that while he is not afraid of any immediate impact on the country’s financial sector, he is more concerned about the blow this crisis may have on the rest of Guyana’s economy.Once credit ‘dries up’ around the world, he noted yesterday, local investment companies can be delayed in terms of acquiring capital for their projects.
The Head of State told the media yesterday that once the world’s economies shrink there will be a reduction in global demand.Already on the stock market, the price for commodities such as oil, metal and wood products are falling steeply.As such, he added, there will be fall in price for the commodities that Guyana exports and a shrink in global demand for those commodities.
Investment flows and remittances could be affected to some extent while the cost of capital will go up for anyone who wants to borrow for any purpose abroad, the Head of State pointed out.
On the positive side, President Jagdeo said that fortunately Guyana has a provincial type of banking system; the local businesses are not heavily integrated into the world’s capital, money or bonds markets.“We are isolated from the impact…if our banks were investing large sums of money in these markets they would have been affected.”
Jagdeo told reporters that he hoped to meet soon with Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin, in order to complete the constitutional consultations that are a prerequisite for the appointment. The constitution provides for meaningful consultation on the appointment, but the President does not need the agreement of the Opposition Leader.
Jagdeo, who had previously deemed the consultations complete after his initial meeting with Corbin earlier this year, said he told Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon to set up another meeting to go through the formality. He said the appointment would be made before Christmas. Greene has been in an acting capacity since July 2006.
Jagdeo named Greene as his choice for Commissioner based on the recommendations of an exploratory committee. Greene, however, will be due for retirement next year.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
It should at least enable us to assess our strengths and weaknesses and help us to move forward with confidence. But we should first know what happened. It is a pity that institutional memory in Ghana is short and the Public Records office is not the first port of call before we feverishly proceed to re-invent the wheel. It all started when Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) which is now the European Union.
Now the former French colonies like Togo and La Cote d'Ivoire had a special relationship with the EEC. They enjoyed association privileges which imposed certain obligations on them such as giving preference to EEC imports. When Britain joined the EEC, Ghana and other British colonies were invited to become associate members or opt for two other forms of relationship.
General Acheampong who was then Head of State sought advice from friends in academia and elsewhere. He summoned me to his office one day and said he was confused by the advice given to him. He asked me to chair a committee to advise him on a reply to be sent to the EEC invitation.
I did not know Acheampong and it was the second time we had met alone. Obviously, he had received exaggerated reports about my performance in Geneva especially as the two-term President of the UNCTAD Board.
I exploited my chance and agreed that I would chair the committee on condition that I select its members. He agreed. And so it was that an inter-ministerial committee of civil servants and public officers worked diligently to evolve the six principles on which Ghana would be associated with the EEC. The first was the principle of non-reciprocity. T
hat meant that goods from Ghana would be exported to EEC markets at zero or reduced duties or tariffs but that European goods would not be accorded tariff-free entry into the Ghanaian market. The argument was that it was not an association of equals.
We should be helped to develop quickly through trade aid production and this would be to the advantage of all parties. The cabinet or NRC of General Acheampong agreed to the proposals of the committee and charged it with their implementation under the excellent leadership of Col. Roger Felli, the Commissioner for Trade.
The Committee knew that Ghana alone was powerless to achieve its aims. The other invited former British colonies should agree and join together to present the proposals. Even the former French colonies should be brought on board. Diplomacy was set in train.
Meanwhile, the Economic Committee of Africa (The ECA) under the distinguished Ghanaian, Robert Gardiner, was working hard for a united African approach to the EEC invitation. His chief lieutenant was our own J.H. Mensah, an astute political economist.
Relations with the EEC were put on the agenda of an African Ministerial Economic Conference in Accra. The EEC exploited my credentials in Geneva and I was elected chairman of the preparatory committee for the Ministerial meeting when I was away from Accra. I accepted the position on my arrival the next day and started working to get the principles of Ghana accepted.
It was tough. At 1.00 a.m., on the day the Ministers were to consider the committee's recommendations, there was no agreement. Even the experienced Robert Gardiner gave up. He sent me a note to close the meeting. I did not. I was determined to wear the delegates out.
Soon many wanted to agree to a compromise so that they could go to bed. And so even though Ghana's six principles were not all fully endorsed it was agreed to place all of them before the Council of Ministers. Africa agreed to negotiate together with the EEC even though not all Africa had been invited.
The EEC was gracious enough not to oppose the African position. It was agreed that African experts should draft the common position. Meanwhile, the former British colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific had asked whether they could join Africa in presenting a common front. This was agreed. And so it was that experts from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific met in Nairobi to draft the basic document on which the group would negotiate.
Now in international diplomacy, it is difficult to introduce ideas not in the basic document. Ghana should therefore be heavily involved in the drafting work in Nairobi. The Acheampong regime in those days relied upon and worked closely with proven members of the civil service.
I requested and it was agreed that Ghana should be strongly represented in Nairobi. Col. Felli gave the appropriate support. I sent Joshua Kpakpah of the Ministry of Trade and Osei Hwidieh of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Nairobi. I told them they were to stay indefinitely and that their per diem was assured.
The only condition was that they should get Ghana's principles in the basic document. The two men justified my confidence in the Ghanaian. They worked diligently and completely and got all Ghana's ideas in the document. A Ministerial meeting confirmed the united approach.
The African states supported the general position but the North African nations did not join in the negotiations because they had an understanding with the EEC and were engaged in talks with the Europeans. But countries which had not been invited like Liberia and Ethiopia joined the African group and the EEC to their credit did not question this. The African Caribbean and Pacific group met in George Town - Guyana - and the ACP group was established in 1975. The ACP negotiated the historic Lome Convention with the EEC.
It was mainly an agreement for development of the ACP countries through trade and assistance with regional economic integration playing a major part. Thus it was that the first EEC project in Ghana was the construction of the Takoradi-Elubo road to assist regional integration and trade. The GATT, now WTO (World Trade Organisation), was not happy about the ACPEEC partnership. Neither were other developing countries in Latin America.
They for instance wanted their bananas grown by American multinationals to have the same access as ACP bananas. Relentless pressures from outside and within the EEC had resulted in the rejection of the Lome spirit which underpinned ACP EEC relations.
A new relationship had been evolved to maintain an outward appearance of evolutionary progress. Unfortunately the ACP instead of folding up or turning itself into an association for intra ACP or South-South trade has succumbed to the way of all human institutions. It must keep itself going even if it means abandoning its purpose. I am not suggesting that it should not modify itself to deal with new challenges or the evolving world.
But when the ACP meets on the theme "Promoting Human Security and Development", I am confused. Development cannot flourish when there is no security. But development itself is a wide subject. There are the economic, social, cultural and other aspects of the subject. Unless organisations focus on their areas of competence or engagement, their efforts become diffused and they do not achieve much.
It is good to have "Millennium Development Goals" but let those responsible deal with such matters. Climate change is a major world issue but talking about it will not arrest climate change. Let it be dealt with scientifically, technically, economically and politically at the appropriate fora. Rising food prices are a problem. But the ACP should be interested in high prices for cocoa and unsubsidized food exports to its member states. It is easy to catch the public eye when an organisation dwells on issues in the popular domain.
Many will say that the ACP conference was a success. Of course it brought colour to life in Accra even if traffic was unnecessarily congested and our ear drums were polluted with noise from sirens. I do hope it increased our earnings from services and promoted the tourist trade of the country. But ultimately, the ACP conference should be judged on its own mandate.
What was it established to do? Is the ACP still relevant? Can it assume a useful role without duplicating what other organisations are doing? We the people pay for the ACP and its conferences. What do we get out of it today?
Credit: K.B. Asante
Source: Daily Graphic [Voice From Afar]
FA and 2018 chairman Lord Triesman already had Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney as well as Minister of Sport Gerry Sutcliffe and government envoy Richard Caborn in his 2018 'Cabinet'.
Remarkably, he then decided that yet another of his Whitehall colleagues - albeit a very distinguished one - was the best way forward in the quest to host the World Cup in England.
Guyana-born Valerie Ann Amos, a management consultant and equal opportunities expert, was made a peer by Tony Blair in 1997 and became the first black woman in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development as well as Leader of the House of Lords.
Guyana360: What a nice gesture, but shouldn't this woman be in Guyana lobbying for us. The migration has really hit Guyana like a slab of concrete.
By Oscar Ramjeet
Caribbean Net News Special Correspondent
ST JOHN’S, Antigua: A Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) report from St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda states that CARICOM Chairman, Baldwin Spencer has confirmed that the signing ceremony for the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will go ahead next week as planned, while hinting that Guyana may take part in the process. With the EPA signing already set for October 15, Spencer disclosed that efforts were continuing to ensure that the Bharrat Jagdeo administration in Georgetown joined with the regional states in penning its signature to that trade document. "I think that there are some manoeuvrings which may very well lead to Guyana signing on the 15th (of October),” Spencer told CMC.
We thought what a nice gesture. But, after some research on the situation in Guyana, we were shocked - no- amazed that Guyana actually subscribes to the World Day for Decent Work.
Bylabour minister, Manzoor Nadir's own words, “Decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men."
Howevere, this government has consistently derailed the trades union movement in Guyana. Look what happened at NCN during the merger, and a subtle move to stifle Critchlow Labour College.
Further research which is contrary to peddled propaganda, the labor force was 245,492 in 1992 with an unemployment rate of 12 percent, a rate that remained the same in 1999.
There is no regulation of working conditions in the small-scale farming sector. In other sectors of the economy regulation is not enforced, and minimum wage levels have been rendered obsolete by inflation.
Guyanese workers generally possess very low skills levels, as most skilled workers have left the country for better jobs elsewhere. There are active labor unions that exist in nearly every organized industry, but they have not been very effective in attaining better conditions for their labourers. They said so
Monday, October 06, 2008
Russia recently gave Venezuela a US$1 billion credit to buy arms. It also has signed contracts worth more than US$4.4 billion since 2005 to supply weapons to the socialist country.
But Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo's administration said Sunday it was confident Caracas respects its territorial integrity regardless of a long-standing border dispute between the two South American governments.
The People's National Congress on Saturday said the Russian weapons sales are reminiscent of a 1966 buildup, when Venezuela occupied half of Ankoko Island that Guyana says is its territory.
By EMILY HOROWITZ
Counterpunch: Khemwatie Bedessie, a 39-year-old immigrant woman in New York City, was convicted last year of raping a 4-year-old at a daycare center in Queens, though the facts of the case strongly suggest she is innocent. Her conviction resulted solely from a confession, which she says is false and was coerced from her by a detective.
In the 1930s, the Supreme Court outlawed “the third degree” during police questioning.
Interrogators can no longer beat people, keep them awake for days, or threaten them with death to get a confession. Rogue behavior still surfaces. Chicago is still investigating a police district that routinely applied electric shocks to suspects less than a generation ago. But this isn’t the Depression Era, and coercive interrogations are no longer supposed to be allowed.
It’s not the 1980s, either. That decade marked the eruption of the McMartin Preschool case, in which several California childcare workers, among them elderly women, were accused of most bizarre and extreme sex abuse against children.
McMartin, with its claims of mutilated rabbits and sodomy in underground tunnels, turned into the longest and most expensive criminal case in U.S. history, before it collapsed in 1990, with acquittals and hung juries. Dozens of copycat cases from the same period have since been debunked, and today child protection authorities tell us they know child sex abuse investigations can go haywire, but they have ways to keep them on track so people aren’t treated unjustly.
Even so, Khemwatie Bedessie was accused and convicted without any substantial evidence, except for her confession. Was it really coerced and false, as she claims? We’ll probably never know for sure because police didn’t record the interrogation that led to her self-incriminating statements. Lack of recording is one reason Bedessie deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Her interrogation should have been videotaped, just as all questioning should be when people are detained during investigation of serious crimes. Among law enforcement agencies around the country, videotaping is catching on, and that’s laudable. But even if taping becomes universal, it won’t come near to eliminating false convictions based on false confessions. To make a real dent in the problem, we need to first recognize that when it comes to investigating crimes, we’re still in the epoch of the Inquisition.
Bedessie case is instructive, and it has a back story. She is one of nine siblings from Guyana, and grew up very poor there. At age 3, she was kicked in the head by a donkey; after that she suffered bouts of writhing and foaming at the mouth, which her family calls “seizures” or “anxiety attacks.” She never received medical treatment for them, and because classmates teased her about the attacks she dropped out of school after fifth grade.
She cannot add or subtract small numbers, and her writing looks like a 7-year-old’s. After coming to the United States five years ago, she lived with her mother and worked 11-hour shifts, doing cleaning at a small daycare center in Queens. There she was known by the children as “Teacher” and by their parents as “Anita.”
One preschooler was a boy I will call Sam. At Bedessie’s trial this spring, Sam’s mother testified that when she first put him in daycare at age two so she could take a job, she was anxious about leaving him. Soon she started asking him if anyone there was sexually abusing him. She asked randomly and frequently. “No, mommy,” Sam always replied.
Then, one day in winter 2006, Sam developed a fever and a rash on his buttocks. At the doctor’s, he was diagnosed with flu. But his mother, again, felt worried. Again, she asked him about abuse. This time Sam, now 4, said “yes.”
Taken to a hospital, he told a nurse he’d been raped by “Anita” – not his name for Bedessie but his mother’s. A police officer was called, but Sam would not repeat the statement. And medical personnel did not change their diagnosis of the rash. They still made no finding that it was caused by sexual abuse.
That left nothing except a preschooler’s word – which was spotty, and could have been tainted by his mother’s constant questions. And there was another problem with the case: it is astronomically rare for females as old as Bedessie to commit sex crimes against tiny children.
Given this fact, what is the probability that the rape of a 4-year-old by a middle-aged woman would be discovered purely by accident, by questioning a child whose original complaint – which triggered the questions to begin with – had nothing to do with sex abuse? The likelihood is miniscule. The most probable explanation for Sam’s allegation of rape is that it was false, evoked by his mother’s fears and the boy’s suggestibility.
Not surprisingly, the detective in charge of the case, Ivan Borbon, was getting nowhere after a week of investigating. But instead of calling it quits, he decided to bring Bedessie in for questioning. Wearing plain clothes and driving an unmarked car, Borbon arrived at the day care at 9 a.m. one day.
Bedessie said she thought he was a child protection worker. Borbon did not alert her to the misconception, and he told her they were going to his “child protection” office. It turned out to be a police interrogation room. There, Bedessie later testified, Borbon began cursing at her and calling her a child molester. He displayed a tape recorder and said he’d “wired” Sam.
He claimed he had, on tape, the sounds of Bedessie forcing the child to have intercourse with her in the daycare bathroom. Incredulous, she asked him to play the tape. He refused, cursed some more, and said Bedessie had two choices. She could say then and there that she had raped Sam and she would be released to go home. Or – as she put it at trial – she could continue to profess innocence and “go to Rikers and never see my mommy” again.
“I do whatever he tell me to do,” Bedessie later testified. She says she has no memory of confessing (family members say she dissociates when she has her “anxiety attacks”).
But she did make a confession, after only three hours in custody. It was videotaped. In her statement, she responds to questioning by describing being fully penetrated sexually, for several minutes, on a toilet, by preschooler Sam. She characterizes the penis of this 4-year-old as being as long as a ballpoint pen, and of “about two inch thickness.”
She speaks a notably creolized English, and it is not clear she understands everything she is asked. At trial a year later, she said she did not know the meaning of the words “masturbation,” “stroking,” “orgasm” or “immoral.”
Bedessie’s attorneys tried to put a witness on the stand: Richard Ofshe, an internationally recognized expert in false confessions. The judge would not allow it. He said the jury could make up its own mind about the veracity of Bedessie’s incriminating videotape. After only a couple of hours’ deliberation, they convicted her.
Though Ofshe did not testify, he watched Bedessie’s confession and interviewed her before her trial. He finds her account of coercion very credible, and says many people make false confessions after much less time than the three hours it took for Bedessie to begin her statement. Her description of the interrogation, Ofshe says, sounds like many others he has heard, in which evidence later surfaced to show that the defendant was innocent, even though he or she had earlier confessed. Ofshe and every other researcher who has studied false confessions note that they are easily extracted by interrogators.
That’s because of how interrogation works – even when it’s done legally.
The Arizona v. Miranda decision, with its caveats about the right to stay silent and its offers of lawyers, was issued by the Supreme Court in 1966. Since then, legal police questioning supposedly has dispensed with 24/7 marathons and physical assault. Now, interrogations concentrate on psychology. But even when everything is on the up and up , questioning in detention is no tea party.
According to the law, cops can get people to talk by yelling, insulting them, invading their personal space, saying there’s evidence when there isn’t, and feigning sympathy about the crime (“After all, she was dressed like a slut. I know she was asking for it, huh?”).
A widely used training manual recommends that the interrogator physically crowd up next to the suspect and insist he or she is guilty, cutting off any bodily or verbal protestation of innocence. “The interrogator must rely on an oppressive atmosphere of dogged persistence,” advises the manual, “leaving the subject no prospect of surcease.
He must dominate the subject and overwhelm him.” These techniques “suggest that only confession will bring interrogation to an end.” In this way, the manual instructs, it is possible “to induce the suspect to talk without resorting to duress or coercion.”
But, at some point on the continuum of trickery, duress and threats, cops can step over a line. The resulting confession is what most people think of when they read reports from organizations such as the Innocence Project. According to that group, in over of quarter of DNA exonerations, innocent defendants pleaded guilty or made false confessions. Many such confessions and pleas were produced because police officers promised leniency at sentencing in exchange for a confession. Such deals are not allowed.
Or the interrogator threatened bodily harm, warning the suspect, for instance, that confessing would be the only way to avoid the death penalty. (Bedessie says that Borbon, the detective who interrogated her, told her about the terrible treatment accused child molesters get at Rikers. He said she could avoid going there by confessing).
According to a raft of social science and psychology research done over the past two decades, techniques like these are especially likely to produce false confessions when used on juveniles, the mentally ill, the poorly schooled, immigrants, and those with impaired cognition (Bedessie fits at least two of these categories).
It’s also agreed that illegal practices occur frequently in the interrogation room, and that cops later lie about them on the stand. And when there is an argument about veracity, research suggests that no group of people – not judges, prosecutors or juries – can tell whether a confession is true or false simply by reading a transcript or watching the video. That is why not just the confession should be recorded, but also the full interrogation that led up to it. The idea is to avoid methods that – as the Supreme Court has put it – “shock the conscience” and “offend the community’s sense of fair play and decency.”
Ten years ago, only two states were recording interrogations. Now, nine states and the District of Columbia do, and they are joined by more than 500 local police departments nationwide (some record only for murder cases, others for lesser felonies as well).
Increasingly, taping is the trend. It’s spreading relatively slowly, but it’s spreading, says Northwestern University legal scholar Steven Drizin, an expert on false confessions who has advocated for taping for years. He thinks the scales would really tip if federal agencies started making recordings.
So far, the feds have said “no.” But last year, media eyebrows were raised when the DOJ released documents related to how eight U.S. Attorneys were fired under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ watch. Speculation is that one of the fired attorneys, Paul Charlton, in Arizona, was let go because he was investigating Republican Congressman Rick Renzi, a Bush loyalist, about a 2005 real estate deal.
Either that or Charlton angered the DOJ for not prosecuting enough obscenity cases based on adult porn. Gonzales’ office demurred, saying that a major reason Charlton was canned was that he wanted to start a pilot project for the FBI and other federal agencies to start experimenting with videotaped interrogations.
When the documents came out, one of them – from the FBI – objected to Charlton’s idea and commented that “as all experienced investigators and prosecutors know, perfectly lawful and acceptable interviewing techniques do not always come across in recorded fashion to lay persons as a proper means of obtaining information from defendants.” More pointedly, the memo mentioned worries that jurors could find “proper interrogation techniques unsettling.”
Couple these anxieties with steady media attention to the problem of false confessions, and it might seem odd that judges, juries, and the public in general still find it so hard to believe that someone like Khemwatie Bedessie would say she was guilty if she wasn’t. Inside and outside the courtroom, what is the problem?
The most proximate answer is that, logistically speaking, the U.S. is heavily invested in a criminal justice system that would be paralyzed without confessions. Ninety-two per cent of felony convictions are obtained by plea bargains or confessions. That’s a far higher rate than in other countries (Italy’s, for example, is 8 per cent, and Norway doesn’t allow plea bargaining at all).
Relying on confessions to prosecute crimes is thrifty because it avoids the need for costly investigations. But it’s also very destructive to justice, according to Jerusalem University criminologist Boaz Sangero. Writing in a recent issue of Cardozo Law Review, he lists several problems.
The first is that, after a suspect is apprehended, police tend to ignore serious investigation; instead, they focus on getting a confession. And once the confession is obtained, any other work going on at all typically ends. The push to handle cases this way encourages misbehavior in the interrogation room.
Further, reliance on confessions promotes disgraceful conditions of detention. Jails are often worse than prisons. Filth, bad food, lack of sunlight, crowding and violence pressure people to say they did something – anything, whether it’s true or not – just to get out of lockup.
Then, because they’ve confessed, we figure it’s OK to keep others like them in awful cells – and to bring in more detainees for interrogation. It’s a vicious circle, and most who get trapped in it are poor, uneducated, and unacculturated.
Their marginal status is bound up with the moralistic judgment that they are different from us, and therefore bad. Their badness reinforces our willingness to keep a bad system in place. It probably also allows us to export illegal interrogation – our 1930s-era torture, updated – to places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Beyond fear of the bad “other” and desire for a bargain, though, there’s a more fundamental, existential reason why dependence on self-incrimination is mean and unfair. As Sangero notes, any kind of interrogation which focuses on obtaining confessions – legal or illegal – probably violates people’s rights. That’s because, from the point of view of self-interest, confession makes no sense at all. People are asked to help themselves by condemning themselves. It is deeply irrational.
That irrationality is especially apparent in the many confessions made, even though they were not extracted directly by police questioning. In fact, as Sanjero notes, it’s possible that most confessions arise not from external coercion but from states of dependency and abjection that people internalized before they were ever interrogated.
Historical and legal records abound with examples. After Charles Lindbergh’s baby was abducted, over 200 people walked into police stations and said they were the kidnapper. More than 30 told authorities they were the murderer of a woman who came to be known as “The Black Dahlia” – a Hollywood actress whose mutilated body was found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
In a case that truly smacks of internalized abjection and desire for quick death, Heinrich Himmler lost his pipe while visiting a concentration camp during World War II. A search ensued, but on returning to his car Himmler found the pipe on his seat. Meanwhile, the camp commandant reported that six prisoners had already confessed to stealing it.
Since they are not products of police interrogation, no amount of videotaping will eradicate these confessions. Yet, we accept them. At least partly, this is because quick admissions of guilt are cheap, and easy on the justice system. But, more fundamentally, the very concept of confession is deeply embedded in our culture.
It was not always so. Ancient Jewish law barred criminal confessions. In Talmudic commentary – cited in the Supreme Court's Miranda decision, by the way – the rabbinical scholar Maimonides notes, “The court shall not put a man to death or flog him on his own admission.” Additional evidence and witnesses are needed, Maimonides explains, because the impulse to confess is, by definition, self-destructive.
Of a man who professes guilt, there is always the possibility that he is “one of those who are in misery, bitter in soul, who long for death …perhaps this was the reason that prompted him to confess to a crime he had not committed, in order that he be put to death.”
Since the 1551 Council of Trent, however, the Roman Catholic Church has taught that confession is good for the soul – yea, even necessary, to save it and purge it of impurity. This religious notion has since been incorporated into law and into the modern, secular definition of the self. Being a fully realized person today requires full disclosure to family, friends, and even (in the case of writers, artists and public figures) to the polity: of one’s deepest emotions, darkest sexual impulses, and past misdoings. Confession isn’t just good for the self. We need confession to be a self.
But when self meets soul in the modern justice system, it’s a train wreck of contradiction. As Yale University comparative literature scholar Peter Brooks notes in his book Troubling Confessions, “That we continue to encourage the police to obtain confessions whenever possible implies a nearly Dostoevskian model of the criminal suspect … we want him to break down and confess, we want and need his abjection since this is the best guarantee that he needs punishment, and that in punishing him our consciences are clear.”
On the other hand, our Mirandan insistence “that the suspect’s will must not be overborne, that he be a conscious agent of his undoing, of course implies the opposite, that we don’t want Dostoevskian groveling in the interrogation room, but the voluntary (manly?) assumption of guilt. Hence the paradox of the confession that must be called voluntary while everything conduces to assure that it is not.”
It wasn’t so long ago that masters of American jurisprudence were actively grappling with this contradiction. In the 1966 Miranda decision, Earl Warren recommended that the police find other evidence to solve a crime than the “cruel, simple expedient of compelling it from [the suspect’s] own mouth.”
Twelve years before Warren made that statement, Abe Fortas, who later would replace Warren on the Supreme Court, wrote that “Mea culpa belongs to a man and his God. It is a plea that cannot be exacted from free men by human authority.”
Today, Sangero agrees with these liberal lawmakers from a bygone era. He wholly opposes the eliciting and use of confession to solve and prosecute crimes.
But, if confession isemployed, he believes the case should never go forward unless meaningful evidence is first gathered from sources independent of the confession – evidence that strongly shows, rather than merely suggests, that the suspect committed the crime. Many people fear that such a policy would allow lots of guilty people to go free. Sangero dismisses their worries. Forensic science in the U.S. today is so sophisticated and high tech, he says, that police have only to use it. All that is required to convict criminals justly is that the cops do their job.
Sangero is very leery of putting too much emphasis on recording. Sure, he says, it’s needed. But narrowly focusing on videotaping reforms does not encourage the police to redirect investigations away from defendants’ self-incrimination and toward the gathering of independent evidence. Obsession with recording can encourage practices such as “non-detentive interviewing.”
It’s an increasingly common ploy, in which suspects are seduced into chatting – as Bedessie was when she was visited by the supposed “child protection worker,” who turned out to be a policeman – without being read their Miranda rights. Only after the car door is locked, the drive has begun, and the interrogation room is sighted, does the suspect get officially detained and put before a camera. By then, for someone like Bedessie, it may well be too late to take exercise one’s Miranda rights.
Bedessie is now in the first year of a 25-year prison sentence. Her post-conviction legal work is being done by prominent Manhattan attorney Ron Kuby.
He believes she has a good shot at having her conviction overturned because of the trial judge not letting the jury hear expert testimony about false convictions. Nowadays, that’s solid grounds for appeal, and even the assistant DA who prosecuted the case knows it. Pretrial, she advised the judge that it wouldn’t hurt the state’s case to let the defense put on a witness to warn jurors that Bedessie might have falsely incriminated herself. It wouldn’t matter because the confession spoke for itself. And no jury would think otherwise.
Emily Horowitz is a professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Francis College (Brooklyn, NY). She serves as a director of the National Center for Reason and Justice (www.ncrj.org), an innocence project for people wrongly accused or convicted of crimes against children and a sponsor of Khemwatie Bedessie. She can be reached at email@example.com