July 27, 2016

‘Extremely honoured to lead Guyana Amazon Warriors’ – Rayad Emrit

Rayad Emrit

Rayad Emrit

Guyana Amazon Warriors have named Rayad Emrit as Captain in place of New Zealander Martin Guptill for the remainder of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign, with in-form Australian batsman Chris Lynn stepping up to the position of vice-captain.

The experienced Emrit, 35, has played in 36 Hero CPL games since 2013, having also previously featured for Barbados Tridents, and has been a key performer in Guyana Amazon Warrior’s ascent up the league table with nine wickets to date in seven matches to date this season.

Capped twice for the West Indies at One-Day International level, the right-arm medium-fast bowler has displayed strong leadership skills this season.

Emrit said: “I am delighted and extremely honoured to be given this opportunity to lead the Guyana Amazon Warriors team for the rest of the tournament. Martin did a fantastic job and I just want to continue in that vein by leading the team to more victories and consolidating our position on top of the table. I want to thank the franchise owner and management for having the faith in me to lead such a great group of players and our aim is to go all the way.”

Chris Lynn, meanwhile, has been in devastating form with the bat for the Amazon Warriors and has so far scored 246 runs in seven innings at an average of 49.2, and an impressive strike rate of 130.2.

The 26-year-old Australian international captained the Brisbane Heat in last year’s Big Bash and was selected as the Player of the Tournament having finished the competition as the tournament’s leading run-scorer and six-hitter.

The Amazon Warriors will next face St. Lucia Zouks in the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Sunday, 24 July at 17:00h.

GUYANA AMAZON WARRIORS: Sohail Tanvir, Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Smith, Chris Lynn (vice-captain), Rayad Emrit (captain), Adam Zampa, Devendra Bishoo, Jason Mohammed, Christopher Barnwell, Veerasammy Permaul, Orlando Peters, Assad Fudadin, Anthony Bramble, Paul Wintz, Steven Jacobs, Steven Katwaroo, Ali Khan, Shimron Hetmyer

 

Driver charged for killing Guyanese woman in Queens hit-and-run

Zaalika Rasool is pictured with her husband, two sons, and daughter (Photo taken from NY  Daily News)

Zaalika Rasool is pictured with her husband, two sons, and daughter (Photo taken from NY Daily News)

A man was arrested and charged for the hit-and-run accident that killed a Queens mother of three.

According to the New York Post, Jairam Budhu, 58, was charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident in connection with the car wreck that killed Zaalika Rasool in South Ozone Park last Sunday.

Reports say that Rasool, 41, her husband, Azaam, and their 9-year-old daughter, Sara, were heading home from a mosque Sunday night when the accused blew through a stop sign and slammed into them resulting in the deadly crash.

Police say the force of the impact ejected Rasool and her 9-year-old daughter, Sarah, from the car and into the street. Rasool was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gov’t ‘in no rush’ to hold death penalty consultations – Trotman

From left to right: UN Assistant Secretary General of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic; Judge Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Marc Bossuyt and EU Chargé D’Affaires Derek Lambe

From left to right: UN Assistant Secretary General of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic; Judge Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Marc Bossuyt and EU Chargé D’Affaires Derek Lambe

Not very long after top international human rights activists called on Guyana to repeal the death penalty for terrorism and other offences, the government has hinted that it is “in no rush” to hold public consultations on the issue anytime soon.

At his most recent Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, said that from all indications government was in no hurry to abolish the death penalty and any such decision would be taken after consultations are held.

Pressed as to when such consultations would be held, Trotman said “we are not in a position to say that we will be entering into consultations to add to the penalties or to remove them. We don’t feel the impetus right now.”

The minister further explained that Guyana’s anti-terrorism legislation provides for the death penalty in keeping with requirements by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to ensure that the country is not blacklisted.

Though Guyana had committed to join worldwide efforts to abolish this act, the death penalty was included in the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill 2016 despite objections from the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) parliamentary Opposition.

Ahead of a judicial colloquium on the death penalty on Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel, the international representatives called for this clause to be removed from the legislation.

Judge Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed hope that the death penalty will be removed from the books completely.

She explained that governments should not just pass a law because something terrible occurred.

“Law is not done emotionally. The rule of law follows intentional standard and Guyana is very much a part of the international community… so you have to pass laws that are sound and definite and not responding each time there is a terrorist act committed here or in France or wherever. Of course, these are terrible crimes and the UN has very specific requirements for counter terrorism measures,” she stated, emphasising that these measures do not comply with the capital punishment.

On this note, she urged that Guyana advance forward and not backward in its efforts to abolish the death penalty.

“This country should be proud that in 20 years there has been no execution,” she highlighted. Guyana last executed a death row inmate in 1997.

But Pillay stressed that it ought not to be just a moratorium but it must be abolished.

Moreover, Assistant Secretary General from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, also pointed out that there is no evidence that proves that the death penalty deters any crime, including terrorism.

The European Union (EU) in collaboration with United Nations (UN) representatives organised a conference with members of the local judiciary to engage in a detail discussions on the movement towards abolishing the death penalty.

Just before the event got underway, the delegation hosted a news conference to brief the media about the expectations of the activity.

The forum will see presentations being done by members of the international rights groups, where they will share experiences and progress of other countries towards the abolition of the death penalty.

The aim is to broaden the discussion on the matter in Guyana.

The visiting delegation also visited several Government officials including Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams.

They intend on meeting Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan today.

The Attorney General had argued that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regime mandates the capital punishment be enshrined in the AML/CFT legislation.

However, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall asserted that in other countries deemed FATF compliant, the death penalty is abolished. He pointed out that in France, where FATF is headquartered, the death penalty was abolished decades ago; and the country is still FATF compliant.

According to statistics by Amnesty International, 140 countries abolished the death penalty in 2014, by law or practice. This is significant given that when the organisation started its campaign against the death penalty in 1997, only 16 countries had abolished this punishment for all crimes. Seven countries that carried out executions in 2013 did not do so in 2014; those being Bangladesh, Botswana, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Despite this remarkable progress, there was a recorded 28 per cent increase in the number of executions in 2014 when compared to the figures in 2013. There were 2466 death sentences in 55 countries in 2014, with a total of 607 executions. This figure excludes China, which executed more persons than the rest of the world combined. The top five countries which still execute prisoners on death row are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the USA.

Additionally, seven other countries resumed executions – Belarus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. (Devina Samaroo)

Jagdeo accuses Gov’t of ‘sidelining’ Guyanese contractors

…says hundreds of jobs at stake if Suriname-based Chinese company is selected for low-income homes project

Minister Valerie Sharpe-Patterson  along with GM of Zhong Da International Engineering Company (CDIG) Wu Qiong, during a visit to Suriname

Minister Valerie Sharpe-Patterson along with GM of Zhong Da International Engineering Company (CDIG) Wu Qiong, during a visit to Suriname

Hundreds of Guyanese will be denied job opportunities if Government seals the deal with a group of Surinamese-based investors to construct low income and medium-income houses at the Perseverance Housing Scheme on the East Bank of Demerara (ECD), according to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Jagdeo accused the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration of sidelining local contractors for a group of Chinese investors for the undertaking; a move he said they would have complained bitterly against if they were not in Government.

“Isn’t this taking away jobs from our local people? How come you were saying all the time that the Chinese are coming to take away jobs and here you want them to build small houses,” he highlighted, noting that this is just one of the many contradictions of the ruling Administration.

Jagdeo estimated that over 400 Guyanese could have been provided with meaningful job opportunities had the Government contracted local people for the project.

A team headed by Minister with responsibility for the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Valerie Patterson visited Suriname to meet with the Chinese investors there.

Minister Patterson was accompanied by CH&PA Board Member Mark Jacobs; CH&PA Chief Planner Rawle Edinboro; Pilot Coordinator of the Guyana Wastewater Revolving Fund Marlon Daniels, who is also a Water and Sanitation Specialist; and Building Consultant Klensil Grenville.

This visit was a follow up to a proposal, which was submitted to the Government of Guyana by Zhong Da International Engineering Company (Suriname) for the housing project in Guyana.

The proposal is for the construction of low and middle-income homes, complete with water and sanitation systems in Perseverance Scheme.

The Perseverance Scheme is the site where the Government’s Turnkey home Project is ongoing. To date, a total of 59 homes have been completed, with another 141 under construction.

Reports indicate that another 800 homes are to be still constructed.

On the other hand, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that the General Manager of the Chinese Company, Wu Qiong, assured that over 50 per cent of the workforce for the project will be Guyanese.

He noted that training would be offered to locals once the project commenced.

Zhong Da International Engineering Company (Suriname) N V was founded and registered in March 2000 and it constitutes the solely-funded enterprise of China Dalian International Cooperation Group (CDIG).

However, the parent company CDIG has been in Suriname for over 17 years and its business covers road construction, bridges, industrial and civil engineering.

Zhong Da started its housing project in Suriname, which is one of the key projects used by that country’s Government to solve the problems of people’s livelihood.

To date, the company has completed a total of 550 homes, over a period of 40 months in two Government housing settlements in Suriname.

SARU being used as ‘propaganda arm to destroy reputations’ – Jagdeo

BY DEVINA SAMAROO

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader,
Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo says the forthcoming legislation to institutionalise the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) can be regarded as nothing more than laws for witchhunting, a contraption which can backfire on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.

SARU was established with the purpose of hunting for State assets which initially belonged to the Government, but later ended up in the hands of private individuals.

It has since been conducting investigations and making recommendations to the Guyana Police Force for charges to be laid against allegedly culpable persons, without any legal framework in place governing its operations.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams had announced recently that the draft legislation is currently being reviewed by his Chambers.

But Jagdeo contended that there really is no need for legislation to be put in place to govern a body that has no need to be in existence.

“Corruption cases can be dealt with routinely by the Police. The current legislation can deal with any act of corruption. We have enough laws to deal with corruption by anyone,” he stated.

Moreover, the former President wondered whether SARU will also investigate corruption allegations against sitting Government officials or if it will just target instances under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration.

“Take for example, the 16 computers for Leader of Opposition’s Office… These were in the Parliament’s register given to the APNU when they were in Opposition… When they went into Government, they had to hand back those assets, but they were never returned. Where are those assets? Should SARU recover those too?” Jagdeo rationalised.

He also opined that should an allegation of corruption be levied against Government Ministers or even President David Granger, would SARU be mandated to investigate those claims.

In this regard, Jagdeo contended that from all indications, SARU is being established as a ‘witchhunting’ body under the pretext of a transparency mechanism to satisfy the demands of the international community.

“It is being used as a propaganda arm to destroy reputations,” he decried.

When prompted, Jagdeo conceded that when the PPP/C returns to Government, they will too go after stolen assets but in a more effective and efficient way.

“If there are assets that are stolen, we will go after assets differently and efficiently. Not like how it is being done now,” he stated.

In fact, he explained that if the Government puts legislation in place to facilitate witchhunting, then it will remain in the books even when the PPP/C returns and can be used against them.

“I hope they know what they’re doing,” Jagdeo expressed.

Moreover, he lamented too that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) under the Guyana Police Force appears to also be politically controlled.

Jagdeo pointed out that to this day, Government is yet to make public the protocols governing the conduct of SOCU.

SOCU has been involved in a number of controversial operations, including the high-profile car chase which resulted in the death of Guyana Defence Force Sergeant Robert Pyles and his wife Stacy along with another civilian in a horrific smash-up on Carifesta Avenue in December 2015.

Ash Deonarine still being sought by Police

Wanted: Ash Deonarine

Wanted: Ash Deonarine

Local investigators are still pursuing the extradition of former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of the Guyana Power and Light Inc, Ash Deonarine, to answer to the two multimillion-dollar fraud charges.

In August last year, Deonarine was sent on administrative leave after he allegedly transferred some G$27.8 million to his personal account without the approval of the Board of Directors. He is also being accused of paying former board member Carvil Duncan, a sum of G$948,000 that was not authorised.

Following months of investigations, the two former GPL Executives were slapped with conspiracy and simple larceny charges last month. However, Deonarine had left the country since August 2015 and never returned, as such, he was charged in absentia.

Additionally, when the matter was placed before the courts late last month, an arrest warrant was issued for the former GPL second in command. It is believed that Deonarine fled to Canada.

Deonarine had said earlier that he did nothing wrong and was willing to return to Guyana to answer to the allegations.

In this regard, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum told reporters on Wednesday that the Police Force is still working on the process to have the former GPL Executive extradited to Guyana to face criminal charges in relation to the alleged unauthorised withdrawal of G$27 million from the utility company’s accounts as “back pay”.

“Deonarine is still wanted by the Police… Our legal advisors are still in contact with the law enforcement officials overseas and we are trying to prepare extradition documents,” Blanhum stated.

After coming into office, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration found that close to G$142 million of the PetroCaribe Fund was plugged into the operations of the state-owned GPL. This was realised after Government said it had found an empty PetroCaribe Fund when it took office and later launched an investigation.

Based on information gathered, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had explained that the power company has two DCEOs – one for operations and the other for administration. He said apparently, the operations DCEO was receiving a higher salary than the administration DCEO, and the operations DCEO had been making representations to the Board for there to be parity in the salaries of the two.

This, the Minister pointed out, was reportedly disapproved by the previous Board. However, in June 2015, with the signature of Director Duncan, Deonarine made the payment to himself retroactive from January 2013 to June 2015.

Patterson further stated that Board Members had made several representations to have Board fees increase from G$5000 to G$20,000. He noted while the Board had discussed the recommendation, no final decision was made in that regard.

Nevertheless, Duncan later went ahead and approved payment to the tune of G$948,000 for himself, representing “back pay” for the 48 months that he has been a Board member of GPL.

The former GPL Board member was also charged for simple larceny and is currently out on bail as the trial continues.

Enmore man hangs self

…relatives claim he had domestic problems

By Kristen Macklingam

DEAD: Mohanlall Udairaj

DEAD: Mohanlall Udairaj

The body of 48-year-old Mohanlall Udairaj was found hanging inside of his bedroom early this morning by his sister-in-law and nephew who had visited the home following concerns raised by the dead man’s neighbours.

Tuladai Raj told this publication that she and her son made the shocking discovery around 07:30h today at the man’s lot 143 Hope West Enmore, East Coast Demerara (ECD) residence.

She explained that her husband, the brother of the deceased, had arrived at Udairaj’s home earlier Thursday morning to collect some documents, but after continuously calling out for Udairaj and receiving no answer, he returned home.

Subsequently, the now dead man’s neighbours telephoned Raj to voice concerns that they had not seen her brother-in-law for over three days and implored that the family “check up” on him.

“The neighbours said the downstairs of the house was open but the upstairs lock up and his bicycle in the same position for days, meaning, he didn’t use it and that is what he uses anytime he leaves the house. So I come with my son, up the stairs and push the front door which was open and I see his body hanging in his bedroom. His bedroom door was open, so you can see in from the front door and when I see I rush out,” Raj stated.

According to the distraught woman, Udairaj’s neighbours were already alert and in the yard waiting for her to give them feedback.

According to reports, the man’s wife of 16 years allegedly ended the relationship with him some four months ago, taking away his two daughters and her daughter whom he had also raised.

“They suspect something was wrong, from the slight smell in the house, the actions of the two puppies he took care of running up and down the steps not coming out. He premeditate this you know, his wife left him months now and for the past three weeks he told my son that it don’t make sense living and living alone and so. We talk to him over and over and over but we didn’t expect him to do something like this,” she related.

Citizens must champion cause of nation in border dispute, says Belize’s Foreign Minister

Minister Wilfred Elrington

Minister Wilfred Elrington

Guyana’s citizenry must support the cause of the nation as it continues to seek resolution to Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory. More importantly, the local media must ensure that each citizen understands the importance of the issue.

These were the sentiments expressed by Belizean Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington whose country’s border, like Guyana’s, is being claimed by its neighbour. The border dispute between Belize and Guatemala is also unresolved.

As small countries, the support of citizens is critical since border disputes become an “existential issue” for Guyana and Belize, both of which pursue peaceful means in defence of their sovereignty.

“Every Guyanese boy and girl, every Guyanese man and woman, every Belizean boy and girl should know the dispute intimately and should understand their responsibility to champion the cause of the nation; that is the only way we will survive,” Elrington urged.

Diplomatic support for small states in border disputes is very important.  “It is perhaps even more important for us that we get all the support from our local citizenry, particularly the media,” Elrington noted.

Equally important is the role of the media in informing the local citizens on the issue.

“The media has a tremendous responsibility both here in Guyana and in Belize to make this information, the whole dispute a common place, most well-known issue in the country,” the Belizean Foreign Affairs Minister added.

The discussion of the border disputes was on the agenda at the recently concluded CARICOM Heads of Government Conference held last week in Guyana.

In a statement issued following the conclusion of the meeting on July 6, the Caribbean Community “signalled their full confidence in the Secretary General to exercise urgently his authority under the 1966 Geneva Agreement for a choice of options that would bring the controversy to a definitive and judicial conclusion that would be beneficial not only to Guyana, but the Caribbean Community as a whole.”

In the case of Belize, CARICOM expressed their full support “for the Government of Belize as it enters the process of dialogue and welcomed the decisions of the Government of Belize and Guatemala to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of cooperation for the Sarstoon River, which marks Belize’s southern boundary.”

Guyana is seeking a juridical settlement of its border dispute with Venezuela through the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations. Last year, Venezuela issued decree 1.787 which was replaced by decree 1.859 which extended its maritime zone into the  exclusive economic zones of Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in the Eastern Caribbean.

Authorities working to remove vagrants from Parliament Building environs – Ramjattan

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan

The Ministry of Public Security is seeking technical advice on the permanent removal of vagrants who continue to squat around Parliament building.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said to effectively remove these persons poses “a huge problem” to the Guyana Police Force.

Ramjattan pointed out that while on some occasions police have had to place some of the vagrants in holding cells, they would always return to the area once they are released.  “We have a huge problem there…when you start taking them and putting them in the lock-ups because we don’t really have space for them,” Ramjattan said.

The Public Security Ministry is part of a committee established by the Ministry of Social Protection to address the welfare management of the homeless, mentally challenged and addicted persons on the streets. The committee also includes representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council.

“We have to construct a half-way house, and we’ll have to get the funding to Social Protection Ministry for that purpose,” Ramjattan explained as one solution to address the problem.

Last month, the Ministry of Social Protection had indicated that it had identified a building in Region Five to house street dwellers where they will be evaluated to determine whether some of them can be treated externally, placed in a home or be referred to the National Psychiatric Hospital. (GINA)

Gov’t still looking for Amaila Falls, Specialty Hospital contracts Harmon

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

The Government has been in office for over a year and is yet to set eyes on the contracts for the Amaila Falls Hydro project and the Specialty Hospital. This was today, disclosed to media operatives by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at a post-Cabinet press briefing.

Minister Harmon was at the time responding to a question on the accusations made by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on the Government’s failure to make public the details of contracts which are now being reviewed, awarded and implemented.

“I can say this to Mr. Jagdeo, that there are some contracts that had so many confidentiality that they are so deeply buried that until now we can’t see them and I make reference to at least two such contracts; one is the contract of the specialty hospital that he spoke about,” Minister Harmon stated.

The Minister of State further explained that prior to the commencement of the press conference, he contacted Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and, “up to now he ain’t see that contract as yet.”

The Minister said that millions of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent on the contract and the former administration has never ‘brought it to light’.

“The second one has to do with the Amaila Falls contract, never seen it, in fact while we were in the opposition, we were invited here to these offices to meetings and we were told by the Government that these are confidential arrangements and we are basically briefing you on some of them but where is the contract, where is it?” Harmon asked.

Minister Harmon advised that the Government has nothing to hide and operates fully on the ethic of transparency and accountability.

The Minister of State said that although the government is in office for a short period, it is cognisant that is has a responsibility to ensure good governance.

“And so while we have to pick up the pieces, we also have to reconstruct to make sure we have a full understanding of what the previous administration did in very important sectors and the economy of this country,” he concluded. (GINA)