(from Stabroek News), depicting the US heavy-handed influence
over the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Surinamese
Government, which allowed US agents to kidnap Guyanese citizen,
Roger Khan. Right, the Trinidadian Government under Prime Minister
Patrick Manning, who allowed Khan to be taken by US agents on
The conduct of the executive authorities of Suriname
and Trinidad and Tobago, two CARICOM countries, in the rendition
without due process of Roger Khan, a CARICOM national, to U.S.
law enforcement officers on Trinidad and Tobago territory exposes
the extent to which some CARICOM states do not respect their own
sovereignty, and are inclined to subjugate their laws and legal
system to the dictates of powerful nations such as the U.S.A.
Such conduct further exposes the extent to which
Caribbean unity under CARICOM remains an elusive dream, and to
which CARICOM as a regional institution is internally fragmented.
Soon after Guyana declared its opposition to
rendition of alleged fugitive offenders without due process, two
other CARICOM member states actively participated in such a process
in rendering a citizen of Guyana and a CARICOM national to U.S.
Suriname claims that it acted in deportation
of Roger Khan to Guyana. But such a claim has a hollow ring. If
that was the intention of Suriname, why was Khan kept handcuffed
and shackled in Trinidad and Tobago? Why was he not deported to
Guyana, but rather surrendered or abandoned into the hands of
the immigration authorities in Trinidad and Tobago?
Surely, it was the responsibility of Suriname
as the deporting country to deport Khan either to his own country,
or to the country from which he entered Suriname. Khan is neither
a national of Trinidad and Tobago nor did he enter Suriname from
Trinidad and Tobago.
It must be noted that Khan was not a voluntary
visitor to Trinidad and Tobago. He was forcibly taken there by
Suriname law enforcement officers. If Khan was without the necessary
immigration documents, it was the duty of the Trinidad and Tobago
immigration authorities to ensure that he be returned to Suriname
or taken to Guyana by the Surinamese law enforcement officers
who took him there. Therefore, on what basis did the immigration
authorities of Trinidad and Tobago accept Khan in their custody
from the Surinamese law enforcement officers?
Assuming that Khan was taken into custody by
the immigration authorities of Trinidad and Tobago as a fugitive
from US justice, it is not open to the authorities of Trinidad
and Tobago to claim that he was refused entry into Trinidad and
Tobago. But this is the claim of Trinidad and Tobago. It is not
open to Trinidad and Tobago to claim that Khan was refused entry
into Trinidad and Tobago since Khan never sought such entry. If
he was taken into custody by the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago
as a fugitive from
US justice, then he was kept in Trinidad and
Tobago as a fugitive offender for the purpose of extradition and
therefore was not refused entry.
Since it is clear that the immigration authorities
of Trinidad and Tobago did take Khan into their custody, it was
their duty to deport Khan to his home country or back to Suriname
from whence he was brought to Trinidad and Tobago. If it was their
intention to treat Khan as a fugitive offender in their custody,
then they ought to have applied their domestic law and procedures
relating to extradition to Khan. These laws and procedures were
deliberately ignored and by-passed. Therefore, both the U.S. and
Tobago were directly complicit in the abduction
from the soil of Trinidad and Tobago to the USA.
It is significant to note that, while Suriname
was party to the plot to have Khan abducted by the U.S. law enforcement
officers, in fairness to Suriname, the Surinamese officials ensured
that the actual abduction did not occur on their soil and took
Khan to Trinidad and Tobago for it to occur there.
In contrast, Trinidad and Tobago had no difficulty
in Khan being abducted on and from its soil by the U.S. law enforcement
officers. Indeed, the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago not only
permitted and facilitated the abduction but also participated
in it. After all, it was they who released Khan into the custody
of the U.S. law enforcement officers for him to be abducted to
Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have now opened
the door for any citizen of any CARICOM country (indeed of any
country) to be treated in like manner by any CARICOM State. A
precedent has been set for the rendition of any CARICOM national
to foreign countries without due process. Conventions have now
overtaken the fundamental right to due process (according to the
Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago). Such nationals include
not only CARICOM political leaders but also government officials.
This precedent sadly represents the contribution of Trinidad and
Tobago to the erosion of the fundamental rights to due process
of alleged fugitive offenders. It is an unwelcome precedent of
subjugation of national laws and sovereignty to the U.S. dictate
In stark contrast to the conduct of the governmental
authorities of Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. law
enforcement officers, in due deference to their own national laws,
quickly accorded Khan his right to make a telephone call as soon
as they were on U.S. soil.
Incidentally, if the claim of Suriname is correct,
CARICOM deportees need not be taken to their respective countries,
but can be taken to Trinidad and Tobago and left in the custody
of the immigration authorities. The immigration authorities of
Trinidad and Tobago accept such deportees even without the requisite
It is truly amazing that the President of Suriname
has not yet seen the implication of the action of the Surinamese
government as a clear subscription to the U.S. dictate of rendition
without due process of law.
What has been sacrificed is not the legal rights
of an alleged fugitive offender but the status and reputation
of Suriname (and Trinidad and Tobago) as a truly independent and
democratic nation which adheres to the rule of law.
It is incredible that the Attorney-General of
Trinidad and Tobago, as the principal legal advisor to the Government
of Trinidad and Tobago and leader of the Bar of that country,
has played quite a significant role, whether advisory or directional,
in the abduction and rendition of a CARICOM national without due
process. If naivety can be ascribed to the
President of Suriname as a non-legal person,
the same cannot be ascribed to the Attorney-General of Trinidad
and Tobago. The Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago must be
taken to have acted in full cognisance of the legal consequences
of his actions and their implications for the welfare of CARICOM
countries and CARICOM nationals. He must
accept full responsibility for the consequences
of his actions.
The internal health of CARICOM as a regional
institution is seriously jeopardised by the willingness of its
member states to subjugate fundamental principles to the U.S.
dictate of rendition without due process. Such subjugation cannot
be part and parcel of international co-operation.
Rather, it is nothing short of national prostitution
of the rule of law under the thin guise of international co-operation.
Such prostitution constitutes a serious obstacle to regional strength
and unity in the form of CARICOM.
If there is a new word for official misinformation
and deception, that word is ‘Santokism' (from the surname
of the Surinamese Minister of Justice). Minister Santoki almost
completely misinformed and deceived the public in his public pronouncements
on the state of affairs and his Government's position relating
to Khan's arrest and incarceration in Suriname. It is difficult
to believe that a linear descendant of the biblical Ananias
does exist in the person of a Minister of Justice
of a CARICOM State.
There can be no doubt that the success of the
U.S. in compromising the commitment of two CARICOM states to the
rule of law and due process and the political integrity of governmental
officials of high standing poses a serious challenge to Caribbean
unity and integration.
Roger Khan has exposed not only the questionable
propensities of Commissioner of Police Felix and our law enforcement
forces, but also the sycophantic and compromising propensities
of the leadership of so-called independent and democratic Caribbean
nations. He has exposed further the intrinsic fragility of CARICOM
itself as a regional institution of Caribbean unity. This was
achieved at a tremendous personal expense. He is deserving of
the gratitude, if not the respect, of all Caribbean nationals
– even if he stands unsupported by some Caribbean governments
(including the Government of Guyana).
It is ironic that the unsolicitous conduct of
U.S. law enforcement agencies facilitated such exposures. Such
conduct in Europe has evoked serious concern in the European Union.
In Europe, the operations were at least respectfully covert. In
the Caribbean, it was disrespectfully overt.
[Editor's Note: Published in Kaieteur News,
July 10, 2006 as a letter. Mr. Nandlall is an executive member
of the PPP Executive Committee and an attorney at law.]