COME tomorrow, the National Assembly is slated to hear a motion calling for the adoption and implementation of the recommendations contained in the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report into the assassination of professor and political activist, Dr. Walter Rodney.
According to the Order Paper for 31st Sitting of the 12th Parliament, the motion will be moved by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira.
The motion, as is to be presented by Teixeira, argues that even though a report from the CoI, which was appointed to enquire and report on the circumstances surrounding Rodney’s death, was handed over to former President David Granger on February 10, 2016, the complete document was never made public.
Five years ago, while Teixeira was an Opposition Member of Parliament, she had tabled a similar motion calling on the then A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government to implement the recommendations of the CoI.
Teixeira, in her updated motion, reminded that the then Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, presented Volume One of the CoI report on May 12, 2016.
Teixeira’s previous motion was debated in the National Assembly on August 4, 2016, and amended by the government to read: “The National Assembly acknowledges the report… calls on the government to take measures to examine the findings and recommendations contained in the report in order to ascertain whether any, and if so, which are acceptable and implementable.”
“There was no movement on this resolution by the former government,” Teixeira said in her submission.
By way of the new motion, Teixeira wants her government to take steps to implement the recommendations of the CoI report in order to preserve and strengthen the democratic architecture of the state.
She also wants measures to be taken to ensure that the complete report emanating from the CoI is made public and “publicly available electronically.”
During the course of this year, Teixeira and her colleagues in the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government will be taking steps to recognise the life’s work and honour the legacy of Dr. Rodney.
In doing so, Dr. Rodney’s gravesite and memorial will be declared national monuments under the administration of The National Trust; his death certificate, which currently described him as “unemployed” will be corrected to read ‘Professor’ and his work be incorporated into the national school syllabus by the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Rodney’s works will also be distributed to pupils and students across the country, and his more iconic works, noteworthy ‘A History of the Guyanese Working People’, ‘Guyanese Sugar Plantations in the late Nineteenth Century’, and ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, will be made available at the University of Guyana’s library, while the Walter Rodney Chair at the university will be re-established.
Added to that, Dr. Rodney’s death certificate will be amended to replace his cause of death from “misadventure” to “assassination.”
Previously, during the 28th sitting of the National Assembly of the 12th Parliament, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., had said that the measures were being taken as a means of honouring Dr. Rodney’s life and finally setting the public record straight in relation to the circumstances surrounding his death.
The aforementioned measures are also intended to bring closure to the Rodney family, particularly Dr. Rodney’s wife and children.
On June 13, 1980, 38-year-old Dr. Rodney was in the front passenger seat of his Mazda Capella motor car bearing registration number PBB2344, in the vicinity of John and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown with his brother Donald Rodney, who was in the driver’s seat, when an explosion occurred, killing Dr. Rodney, and leaving Donald with minor injuries.
Donald was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison on February 26, 1982, for being in possession of the explosive device which killed his brother. Donald’s conviction was, however, set aside by the Court of Appeal in April.
Nandlall had previously informed the House that with the Court of Appeal clearing Donald, also a victim of the incident, of the perverse conviction which he carried for 40 years, every effort will be made to “remove and expunge” all public records that intimate any level of guilt or wrongdoing by Dr. Rodney in relation to the incident.
The Attorney-General highlighted that Dr. Rodney’s tragic death sent shock tremors to the conscience of many worldwide and to say that the events ensuing his death were a “horrendous miscarriage of justice”, would be an “appalling understatement”.
“The self-evident truth is that when wrongs of such magnitude occur, they can never really be righted. The least that can be done in this instance is to attempt to grant the wishes of the loved ones of Dr. Rodney and to work with them in bringing these wishes to fruition, as they attempt to forge their own closure in relation to this horrific tragedy,” Nandlall said previously.
Dr. Rodney’s family are said to have been tremendously affected by the mislabelling on his death certificate, as it prevented them from recovering his life insurance policy.
Nandlall had explained that one of the greatest tragedies of Dr. Rodney’s death is the loss of his scholarship to the people of Guyana, and the move to introduce his works into schools flowed therefrom.