Army is Acting in Excess of its Powers
by Paul Rodrigues

[Editor's Note: First appeared in Kaieteur News, as a letter. Also in Stabroek News, June 7, 2006. Mr. Paul Rodrigues is one of the three associates for whom controversial "wanted" bulletin was issued by the Guyana Police under the directives of Commissioner Winston Felix, under false premises or for mere "questioning," which is not allowed by the Guyana Constitution, in order to force Mr. Roger Khan into wilfull surrender. Mr. Rodrigues is currently held by the Surinamese police without any formal charge instituted after more than 14 days.]



                            Ex-police, Paul Rodrigues, left, in Surinamese custody since June 15, without a charge. Right, the wife of Paul Rodrigures,
                            protesting at the Square of the  Revolution, Guyana. It is this website's belief that Rodrigues and the other 2 Guyanese in
                            Surinamese custody would be placed on false charges, for only after serving time, would the Surinamese be able to deport                             the men back to Guyana via Nickerie, Corentyne, and avoid a comparison with their treatment of Roger Khan, who was sent                            to Trinidad.

There are many people in our society who have military backgrounds and have studied military strategies. Mr Roger Khan's statements did not gain local and international attention because of who he is or because he was indicted in New York, it gained attention because of what was said and his analysis of our security collapse in Guyana. The American Embassy did meet with Mr Roger Khan and did receive a copy of the tape at that meeting as was admitted.

So the issue of verification would have been concluded soon after March 6, 2006, the first thing the Americans would have done is verified the tape for its own purposes, before sharing it with others as has now become obvious. If the Americans had any doubt about the authenticity of the tapes surely they would have raced to the defence of Commissioner of Police, Mr Winston Felix, a long time ago. The British High Com-mission has been remarkably silent on the continuing embarrassment of their choice as Commissioner of Police; again the High Commission would have already conducted their own analysis of the recordings.

The missing guns saga is a matter for the Guyana Police Force to investigate not for the Chief-of-Staff to investigate his own ranks or himself. Our society is numb with fear coming from the "armed African resistance fighters" and illegal military searches, road blocks and patrols. This illegal military operation in our society should never have been condoned by a Commis-sioner of Police.

The army is hiding behind the thin guise of joint operations, there are no joint operations. On most of the so-called joint operations about 60-80 military ranks are accompanied by maybe 2-3 TSU constables, these police officers are for the sole purpose of window dressing. Why is the PNCR silent on the army's illegal operations? During the 2002/03 crime spree the PNCR was adamant about the role of the military in civil society as was stated in an April 30, 2003 PNCR Press Release:

"The constitutional position is clear. The civilian government is responsible for the policies as regards the internal and external security of the Republic. Legally, the def-ence force was established for "the defence and maintenance of order in Guyana" (Section 5 of the defence Act Chap.15:01). The police force on the other hand "shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime; the preservation of law and order; the preservation of peace and the repression of internal disorder..." (Section 3 (2) of the Police Act Chap.16:01).

The army can only follow clear and precise orders which are practical and are founded in law. Jagdeo has not pointed to one such written order.

The Chief of Staff should always have foremost in his mind that no one can direct him in connection with the operational use of the GDF. Section 9 (2) of the Defence Act is clear on this matter. "The responsibility of the Defence Board shall not extend to the operational use of the Force for which use, responsibility should be vested in the Chief of Staff subject to the general or special directions of the Minister". A clear distinction should be drawn between a ministerial, general or special direction on the one hand and the operational use of the GDF on the other. These are separate and mutually exclusive powers; there is no overlap.

The PNCR has on several occasions pointed out that the nature of the intervention of the army in domestic crime fighting as implemented by the government is both legally inappropriate and professionally unsound. The army cannot become a regular substitute for the Guyana Police Force in indefinite operations without affecting the operational efficacy of the Guyana Defence Force as well as the morale of both the Guyana Police Force and the GDF. The misuse and abuse of the army by civilian powers will in the end undermine the constitutional foundations of the state and is no substitute for the reform and strengthening of the Police Force which the PPP/C government seems afraid of carrying out."

The Guyana Defence Force has already begun to shoot at persons as was demonstrated so far on three occasions as was reported in the media. All those persons who have military backgrounds would know that firing at a car during a road block exercise is no random act. What could be the purpose of these military road-blocks?

Does the Chief-of-Staff think that the persons that stole his weapons will take them for a drive on their way to buy bread or take their children to school? The Guyana Defence Force should perform its duties as was advised by the PNCR on April 30, 2003.

June 29, 2006
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