HANDLING of the issue of the Sparendaam Pradoville 2 investigation would best serve the society should it be dealt with from the position of the rule of law (i.e. universal principles) rather than who are involved (i.e. personalities). On the matter of arrest, the law grants the police the authority to arrest “any person.”
Where the emotive position is taken that Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo should not have been arrested, the society ought not to lose sight of the fact that prior to his arrest, he was invited by the police for an interview — which through Member of Parliament Anil Nandlall he made public, but did not attend — and two, where the law allows for “any person” to be arrested, the police cannot be faulted in the discharge of their duty. When President David Granger, after the fact, made known his view that Jagdeo should not have been arrested given the office he holds and held, outside of this being a subtle interference of the Executive into the work of the police, he ignored that Jagdeo falls within the purview of “any person,” and the courtesy extended to him by the police prior to the arrest.
The justification for arresting based on what is perceived the person did, and the treatment meted out to the person during the arrest can be addressed, but this should not mean that any person is above being arrested. Being arrested and the reason for being arrested are two different scenarios. There is disagreement with Minister Joe Harmon’s position that a former president should he continue in political life is subject to investigation. The law allows for every citizen, providing he or she meets the qualifying conditions, to run for and hold office. Being a former head of government does not prevent one from being a Leader of the Opposition, providing the requirements are met, and the society has precedence of this.
Harmon’s contention is lending credence to the PPP/C’s opinion that the pradoville investigation and arrest of their leaders are politically motivated. He is urged to revisit the Guyana Constitution, because it is evident from the statements he is making about the issue that he doesn’t know this instrument, or hasn’t taken the time to read and understand it. The argument by Nandlall that Jagdeo is not subject to the court of the land, because presidential immunity so protects him, is tantamount to saying a president can order widespread killings of citizens or the sale of the country’s assets to foreigners and not be subject to criminal or civil proceedings. It need not be forgotten that the said Guyana Constitution allows citizens to pursue justice consistent with international conventions and the judicial branch of government to take cognisance of this on matters brought before it.
Advancing the position that the pradoville development is similar to other housing developments across the country where government subsidised them cannot withstand scrutiny. Nandlall failed to mention that that development was exclusive and not open to the general public the way other developments around the country were. Further, subsidising the development of the scheme is not the issue here; it is the process that was used for the acquiring and distribution of these lots.
The Police Force needs to be given a chance, the support and space to do its work. We should be demanding of the officers that they follow the law, including respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, adhere to standard police operating procedures, and produce the quality of work that can withstand scrutiny. Taking this approach would give true meaning to that blind lady holding in equal balance the scale of justice in her hand.